What I'm talking about is vaccinating children. We generally believe that vaccination is something we do to directly protect our own children. But in countries like the United States, where the risk of deadly infectious disease for most people is relatively low, the opposite is really the case. The children who benefit the most are actually those who have not yet been vaccinated or who can not be vaccinated because they are too young or too sick.
Take, for example, measles. As soon as immunization coverage falls below 95%
outbreaks are inevitable.
Even though measles immunization coverage was 95% healthy for the 24.3 million
in the United States, which is not the case – the US vaccination rate for these children is 91%
– This would leave 5%, 1.2 million unvaccinated and unprotected people. Of those who received their first dose, approximately 7%
(1 million) will not successfully induce the immune response to provide protection. This means that there are at least 2.3 million unprotected children. In addition, there are still more children at risk if you consider those who are too young to be vaccinated and who no longer benefit from the protection of their mother's antibodies.
This is a matter of concern because, for these children, some highly contagious diseases such as measles are on the increase. Before widespread vaccination, measles cost the lives of more than 2.5 million
people globally every year. Today, there are about 110,000, but in rich countries, parents too often consider measles to be a harmless disease. The reality is that even with the best health care in the world, there is still a risk of death and a number of serious medical complications, such as blindness and irreversible brain damage.
That's why measles remains such a serious threat to millions of American children who have not been vaccinated or can not. children in whom the vaccine did not take
or whose immune system is compromised, for example those with unusual allergies, or who are on cancer treatment. For them, the only hope of protection is to be able to count on all others who are vaccinated or enough of them to provide collective immunity.
This is where enough of the population is protected to prevent the spread of an infectious agent. For measles, the proportion of the population needed to achieve this goal is higher than for most other diseases because of the fact that it is one of the most contagious diseases ever known. Just entering a room, you can catch him from someone, even if he left hours earlier. For this reason, it is important to maintain coverage at the 95% threshold.
And this is precisely what we do not see for the moment, both in the United States and around the world; after years of steady decline, the number of measles cases has increased by more than 25 percent in the past year. nearly a third
the number of deaths rising from 90,000 to 110,000, mostly children. This increase is due to many complex reasons, including the collapse of health systems in Venezuela, which contributed to 6.358%
increase in the number of cases throughout the Americas from 2016 to 2017. In 2018, as of December 1, 292 confirmed cases
in 26 US states and the district of Colombia.
In North America and Europe, the main reason is hesitation to vaccinate. This does not mean just refusing to vaccinate your child. In some countries, including the United States, parents delay their
Children's vaccinations may be because they believe in vaccination but are worried by some of the anti-vaccine alarmists. This must stop. What these parents may not realize is that it puts not only their own child in danger, but also other children. By contributing to low coverage, this effectively creates a window of opportunity for the virus, helping to perpetuate its existence, not only locally but also globally.
This is not an exaggeration. Measles can travel from one country to another as fast as a jet plane. In the United States, outbreaks can be caused by unvaccinated people traveling to poor countries in countries where there is less measles immunization coverage and bringing the virus home, but the reverse is also true. true; diseases can be spread by rich countries. In 2009, the medical journal The lancet
reported an example of this when Latin America, a region that had previously eliminated measles, was the victim of epidemics caused by imports from Europe.
Today, measles cases are now prevalent almost everywhere in the world – but it is true that if measles is one of the few diseases that we could potentially eradicate, it will never happen if countries rich as the United States can not maintain the collective immunity. . Because a case of measles anywhere is a threat everywhere.
Part of the problem is that, as medical interventions take place, vaccines are rather unique. Apart from occasional trips, the decision to vaccinate is usually made by parents for their own children, which are usually given to healthy people. These two factors move the fear of the disease towards the intervention itself. No parent wants their child to suffer or die, or to want it knowingly about another child.
Perhaps then, in countries like the United States, should we stop considering vaccination as an activity you only do to protect those you love, but on the contrary, consider it as an act of good will for the benefit of others.
Note: This article has been updated to clarify that when measles immunization passes under the 95% coverage in a community, there is a risk of epidemic. For other diseases, this level of risk may vary.