The Significance of Vaccinating Children
Vaccination has sparked contentious discussions worldwide concerning its effectiveness and side effects. The persistent fears concerning the safety and effectiveness of vaccines have seen a significant minority of parents refusing their children to be immunized. Due to the growing number of vaccine-hesitant parents and the extreme effects of lack of or inadequate immunization, it is important to teach parents about the importance of children vaccination.
Besides the introduction of clean water and sanitation, vaccination has greatly contributed to the global health. Vaccines prevent diseases in children, adults, and the elderly, which reduces hospital visits, diagnostic tests, therapy, and hospitalizations (Largeron et al., 2015). According to Andre et al., vaccination promotes individual and public health by eradicating and eliminating disease, controlling individual and societal mortality, morbidity, and complications, protecting the unvaccinated population, preventing infections, and mitigating disease severity (2008). However, the growing vaccine hesitancy is a threat to individual and public health. In this age of shared consent, parents/guardians want to make decisions concerning the heath of their children. Most of the vaccine hesitant parents rely on accurate scientific data in order to make informed decisions about their children’s health. It is, therefore, important to examine the significance of childhood immunization.
To address parental concerns by presenting scientific proof of how vaccines protect children against disease.
- To analyze the empirical evidence of the benefits of vaccines and make judgment about the value of the information.
- To convince parents to allow their children to be immunized and adhere to the required dozes of vaccines.
- To inform parents about the health risks of their children missing immunization.
A growing scientific body of knowledge has made it abundantly clear that the benefits of vaccinating children outweigh the risks. Today, children across the world routinely receive vaccines to protect them from numerous infectious diseases. Immunizing children substantially decreases many infectious diseases and related mortality like tetanus and polio, measles, mumps, and pertussis (Largeron et al., 2015). For instance, before the conjugate was introduced, Haemophilus influenza (Hib) was the major cause of meningitis, epiglottis, and pneumonia among children below 5 years. Hib accounted for approximately 20,000 cases annually in America during the early 1980s. After the advent of the routine vaccination in the 1990s, the prevalence of the Hib diseases dropped by over 99% (Largeron et al., 2015). A similar drastic decline was also experienced in Western Europe as well as developing countries. The vaccines have proved to be highly cost efficient.
From the late 1990s, more vaccines including meningococcal, Rotavirus (RV), and pneumococcal conjugate have been developed. These vaccines have been shown to cut hospitalization and outpatient patient costs. In Europe, for instance, the UK was the first EU nation to introduce mass vaccination of group C meningococcal disease. This disease is a severe bacterial infection that affects young children and progresses rapidly, accounting for 5-10% fatality rate and long-term disabilities like deafness, amputations, and neurological impairment (Largeron et al., 2015). Since the advent of the mass vaccination, the UK has experienced a reduction of 9,000 cases and over 1,000 deaths. The country has saved approximately £10 million since the introduction of the vaccine.
In both developed and developed countries, RV gastroenteritis (RVGE) is the leading cause of acute gastroenteritis in children below 5 years, accounting for more than 87,000 hospitalizations per year in Europe (England, 2014). The yearly cost for gastroenteritis is estimated at €63 million and €67-80 million in France and Italy respectively. In 2008 and 2009, two universal RV vaccines were implemented in Europe (Belgium, Finland, Germany, Austria, and Luxembourg). The universal implementation of the RV for children below 1 year was implemented in 2013 in the UK. According to the national data, the RV immunization program led to a 71% decline in the gastroenteritis cases (Public Health England, 2014). Besides gastroenteritis, incidents of invasive pneumococcal pneumonia (IPD) in children claim great financial resources. For example, Brotons et al., estimated that a child admitted in hospital for IPD in Spain had an average stay of 10 days at a cost of €4,533 for each stay (2013). Such high costs can be prevented by the universal pneumococcal vaccine for children.
Largeron et al. estimate that 57% of deaths in children 68% of hospitalizations could be avoided by a 90% vaccination uptake in Italy (2015). Therefore, a routine varicella vaccination could significantly cut the costs. Another threatening condition in children is influenza, a highly contagious disease that accounts for 3-5 million cases of acute illnesses annually globally (Antonova et al., 2012). A systematic review of 50 publications on the impact of influenza in children in Europe indicated that close to 20% of children below 11 months are hospitalized for averagely 7.9 days (Antonova et al., 2012). The findings imply that the childhood vaccination programs could have a salient economic impact on healthcare resources, hence, programs’ efficiency.
The childhood vaccine programs also prevent nosocomial infections and cancer (Largeron et al., 2015). RV is one of the leading etiological causes of pediatric nosocomial diarrhea, accounting for 31% to 87% of cases. Incidents of nosocomial RVGE lead to 4-12 days of hospitalization and related substantial costs in Italy (Antonova et al., 2012). The costs of managing nosocomial RV infection in Italy are approximately €8 million annually. Therefore, vaccination could not only reduce the number of children admitted for gastroenteritis but also greatly reduce the nosocomial infections (Antonova, 2012). RV poses a great burden in terms of reduced quality of children’s lives, increased costs and economic constraint on parents and hospitals. RV has also been linked to children hospital readmissions in the UK. Vaccination could play an essential role in improving the quality of life and saving resources. Infectious agents including bacteria and viruses cause nearly a fifth of all cancers (Largeron et al., 2015). The common agents include the Human Papillomavirus Virus (HPV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and H. pylori virus. This implies that vaccines can be effective in cancer prevention. 90% of the HBV vaccinations in countries are administered in childhood, which have generated positive outcomes in liver cancer reduction.
Vaccination in children promotes individual and public health by eradicating and eliminating of diseases, controlling morbidity and mortality, mitigating severity of diseases, protecting the unvaccinated population against disease, and preventing infections. As a result, vaccination has a positive economic impact through reduction of hospital visits, treatment, diagnostic tests, and hospitalizations. Research evidence of vaccination in children across the world have indicated significant reductions in disease prevalence including measles, tetanus, polio, pertussis, mumps, pneumonis, meningitis, gastroenteritis, and liver cancer among other infectious diseases. It is, therefore, important for parents to take their children for vaccination to improve the children’s quality of life and cut on health-related costs.
Andre, F.E., Booy, R., Lock, H.L, Clemens, J., John, T.J., Lee, B.W., Lolekha, S., Ruff, T.A., Santosham, M. & Schmitt, H.J. (2008, Feb). Vaccination greatly reduces disease, disability, death and inequity worldwide. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 86(2), 81-160. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/86/2/07-040089/en/
Antonova, E.N., Rycroft, C.E., Ambrose, C.E., Heikkinen, T., & Principi, N. (2012). Burden of paediatric influenza in Western Europe: A systematic review. BMC Public Health, 12(968). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3534559/
Brotons, P. Gelabert, G., Launes, C. Sicuri, Pallares, E. Munoz-Almagro. (2013, Feb 4). Vaccine, 31(7), 1117-1122. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264410X12017951?via%3Dihub
Largeron, N., Levy, P., Wasem, J. & Bresse, X. (2015, Aug 12). Role of vaccination in the sustainability of healthcare systems. Journal of Market Access & Health Policy, 3. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4802702/
Public Health England. (2014, Dec 23). Impact of first infant vaccination programme in England for rotavirus confirmed. Health Protection Report, 8. Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-protection-report-volume-8-2014/hpr-volume-8-issue-37-news#impact-of-first-infant-vaccination-programme-in-england-for-rotavirus-confirmed