On 30th April, Over 20 World Vision Uganda staff in the Refugee Response took their first dose of the COVID-19 Vaccine in Yumbe, Northern Uganda.

Why having a vaccine saves children's lives

Getting vaccinated doesn’t just help you and those around you

Vaccines are a hot topic of debate right now with the COVID-19 vaccine being rolled out across the world and the UK leading the charge when it comes to vaccination rates. You may think that having a vaccine only really affects you and those around you, however, by getting the vaccines offered to you throughout your lifetime, you are actually helping to save lives globally.

If you are wondering how, read on to find out more.

 

Getting vaccinated reduces the spread of disease

The most important way that vaccines can help save lives around the world is by reducing the spread of disease. Not only can a vaccination mean that if you are to catch a virus or disease that it is less likely to affect you as severely (or at all), but vaccines also reduce disease transmission rates, meaning carriers are less likely to pass viruses on and so others are less likely to pick them up in the first place.

One thing we’ve seen in action during COVID-19 that we’ve not seen before is just how quickly a virus is able to spread in the modern-day environment, with travel so easily accessible, before we knew it, an issue that only China was facing locked down the whole world.

For those in parts of the world where access to healthcare and vaccination programmes aren’t as easy to come by or utilise, relying on those who travel and move freely to get vaccinated is something they have no option but to do.

 

A vaccine reduces the need for medical intervention

Another amazing thing that vaccinations do is reduce the need for medical intervention. Not only can vaccines reduce the spread of disease, by they can reduce the effects of disease should you catch it. By preventing diseases presenting major symptoms and side effects, fewer people need to use vital healthcare facilities, relieving pressure from them and meaning they are able to help others in the community who need them most.

In lower-income countries, medical care isn’t something people can take for granted and often it can be a long journey and sacrifice to get medical intervention when people need it most, an experience that is worsened by an emergency or virus outbreak. However, when people are protected against severe symptoms, many won’t need to make that journey or sacrifice, meaning that those who do won’t face life-threatening delays.

You can reduce vaccine hesitancy

Unfortunately, vaccine hesitancy is real and is becoming a bigger issue than ever before due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, the World Health Organisation declared vaccine hesitancy as one of their top ten threats to global health, explaining that “Vaccine hesitancy – the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines – threatens to reverse progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases.” And that was before we’d even heard the phrase coronavirus.

By getting your vaccine, you are helping to fight back against vaccine hesitancy. For those who want to, if there are people around you who are hesitant about the COVID-19 you can talk with them about why they feel that way and your experience. Many social media apps are also encouraging users to share their vaccination status with their friends and followers with stickers, hashtags and more.

 

You protect those who cannot get vaccinated

There are groups of people who are unable to get vaccinated, and for them, it’s so important that others who can, stay protected. People with serious allergies or those with certain pre-existing medical conditions are two groups who, in some cases, are both highly vulnerable and unable to be vaccinated. This causes a Catch-22, as those who cannot get vaccinated are more susceptible to vaccine-preventable disease but also unable to take a vaccine due to health concerns. For people who are medically prevented from being vaccinated and face life-threatening consequences should they catch a disease or virus, life can be very scary. We never know who is living with a hidden illness or disability around us and making sure we are vaccinated can protect them – a simple thing to do to help a friend or neighbour.

A prime example of how getting vaccinated can offer protection to others is the whooping cough vaccine (which also protects against polio, diphtheria and tetanus), offered to all pregnant women in the UK whilst they carry. Not only does the mother receive benefits of the vaccine but they are passed down to her unborn baby, who will be born protected against these things. The NHS reports that “babies born to women vaccinated at least a week before birth had a 91% reduced risk of becoming ill with whooping cough in their first weeks of life, compared to babies whose mothers had not been vaccinated.” A dramatic difference.

How your vaccine saves children’s live worldwide:

  • It reduces the spread of disease
  • It reduces the need for medical intervention
  • It protects those who cannot get vaccinated
  • It reduces vaccine hesitancy

 

How is World Vision helping?

The UK has been a leader in COVID-19 vaccinations and, thanks to the NHS, everyone who lives here is offered vaccines available to them throughout their lives. This makes it difficult to realise just how hard it can be for those in lower-income countries to receive protection against deadly disease. The coronavirus pandemic has shown more than ever the disparity between those living in poverty and those who benefit from living in more developed countries, at the time of writing Our World in Data reports that only 1.4% of people living in low-income countries have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccination – in the UK it’s 70%.

World Vision has been working tirelessly during the COVID-19 pandemic in more than 70 countries, reaching over 54 million people, including over 24 million children. From spreading health information and advice to providing PPE and transporting people to healthcare facilities when needed, there is a lot to do.

And that’s just the coronavirus pandemic, we have also been working for years to offer vaccinations to those around the world for other preventable diseases.

How we protect families

It’s not just the effects of disease that cause issues in many countries, but the economic effects that can be even more deadly, pushing families into famine due to rising food prices and reduced incomes. Our work takes us to communities that will be most affected by this and helps us offer community-based projects and guidance to help families not only whilst we are there but for years to come.

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