We live in a world where no place is a health sanctuary. Despite the progress in surveillance, improvements in the field of medicine we are always on a back foot. Though emerging and re-emerging diseases are a challenge to public health, vaccine-preventable diseases are something under its control.
According to WHO, the increase in percentage vaccination from 20% in 1980 to 85% in 2017 has been able to protect children from life-threatening infections like measles, hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and polio. It was because of effective Global Elimination Campaign against Smallpox, the world was able to eradicate it. Efforts against the eradication of Polio are also in place. Last year, wild poliovirus infection has been found only in two countries compared to widespread across 125 countries 30 years ago. There is a considerable decrease in the incidence of the prevalence of HBV infection in children under 5 years, which is now 1.3% compared with about 4.7% in the pre-vaccination era. In 2015, global coverage with the third dose of hepatitis B vaccine reached 84%, and global coverage with the birth dose of hepatitis B vaccine was 39%.
The challenge for the future is to connect the gaps in the chain of protection against vaccine-preventable diseases. According to preliminary WHO data, measles has increased by 300% globally in the first three months of 2019 even though it is a vaccine-preventable disease. The reason for low vaccine coverage is poverty, conflict, low vaccine access, little knowledge on the vaccine and its safety, fewer vaccine awareness campaigns, and failure to overcome the stigma associated with vaccination.
To control the spread of vaccine-preventable disease, there is a need for the public health sector and political commitment to invest continuously for the access of vaccine, to build trust among the common people regarding the safety and benefits of vaccination. Only then, the goal of eliminating Vaccine Preventable Diseases will be achieved.
Since this is World Vaccination Week, let us strive to educate people about vaccination and uphold the theme of this year’s campaign, “Protected together- Vaccines Work!”.