If there has ever been a time that people across the world have wished for a relief in the form of a vaccine, it is now! Grappled by this invisible virus that is Corona, the world has been relegated to the confines of their homes. Everyone is at risk, everyone is scared. All of us are waiting for the time to tick and finally receive news that a vaccine has been found.
Vaccines have been saving lives for centuries. In the face of the Covid crisis, it is only becoming more obvious, how vaccines can preserve human civilization and all that we have achieved so far. All the progress that humankind has made – in terms of science, technology, art, business, ideology, culture, means nothing if we don’t have the opportunity to go out there into the world and flourish. Vaccines therefore preserve life itself.
The Corona virus is the not the first one that has hit global proportions. Pandemics like the Spanish flu, Cholera, and Ebola in recent times have claimed millions of lives across the world. And its not just pandemics, other infliction like polio, Tuberculosis, diphtheria etc. have debilitated people and hampered their quality of life, if not caused deaths. In light of these threats to human life, regulatory bodies for health like the global World Health Organization & regional like Centre for Disease Control (USA) have worked with governments to mandate vaccines to protect people.
In India, the government and health officials have a list of vaccinations. Some of these are mandated as compulsory and others are optional. This table here shows the compulsory ones,
|Name of vaccine||Protection from|
|OPV (Oral Polio Vaccine)||Polio|
|Hepatitis B||Hepatitis and viral infections affecting liver|
|DPT||Diptheria, Pertussis & Tetanus|
|MMR||Measles, Mumps & Rubella|
Others such as varicella (Chickenpox), Influenza, Rotavirus, Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine are all optional but come with a highly recommended tag.
While these afflictions may not be life threatening, take for example influenza or chickenpox, a vaccination for them goes a long way. This is because these diseases are usually highly contagious and can spread to wide sections of society, particularly among children, very fast. This is the reason why health authorities recommend taking these vaccinations – so as to minimise loss and impact to society. India and most parts of the world have eliminated diseases like Polio successfully due to a strict vaccination program. The positive impact of this is very evident. Sustained and concerted efforts by local and global authorities have really contributed to this achievement.
However, vaccination efforts by governments are not always welcome. There are a lot of considerations – social, economic and ethnic, which can come into play. Governments across the world have used mandates, rewards and coercion too to ensure vaccination goals are met. The debate is however, divided – should people be in control of their own bodies or should some authority have the right to govern what happens to our health?
Many people have opted out. They have chosen to avoid vaccinations citing reasons that vaccines cause far worse implications such as autism or ADHD. Some of these people may also plain simply believe that the human body possesses the ability to heal itself and gain immunity.
Can we do this with Covid-19? Would you risk being out in an environment at work, school, the supermarket, where you know individuals maybe carriers or suffering from Corona virus? I certainly will not want to send my child to a school where other children or the teachers are not immunized. I would not want my house-helps to come in everyday with a sword of risk hanging over their heads. Similarly, I would not be able to live with the guilt of knowing that I transmitted a virus to someone with weak or compromised immune system that led to their death.
If we have brought down to our knees by an invisible virus like Corona, then why not pay heed to other optional vaccinations which are available in our toolkit? They have all been developed in response to the loss of hope and life caused by viruses and bacteria. We must understand that vaccinations save lives – not just our own and that of our families, but also of people in society at large. We have the power to save humanity and let it thrive.
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