Health Vaccination: protection against contagious diseasesVaccinations protect people worldwide against contagious diseases. They are among the most important preventive measures in modern medicine. According to the United Nations, up to three million children are saved each year through vaccination.
Brief history of vaccination
The first vaccinations were given as early as 18. Carried out in the twentieth century. At that time deadly epidemics like the plague, cholera or smallpox raged in Europe.
The English country doctor Edward Jenner found out that people develop defenses against human smallpox after a targeted infection with cowpox. Jenner called his method "Vaccination", after vacca, the Latin word for cow.
The method caught on quickly in Europe. Today, smallpox viruses have disappeared worldwide through consistent vaccination -. Vaccinations have also proved their worth in modern medicine for other infectious diseases.
How infectious diseases are transmitted? Infectious diseases are caused by viruses. Bacteria triggered. Transmission often occurs via droplet infection, such as when sneezing and coughing. Other infection routes are also possible: In the case of tetanus (lockjaw), the pathogens enter the body through small wounds.
With high vaccination rates, it is possible to completely eradicate individual pathogens. In addition to smallpox, this has been achieved in Europe with poliomyelitis (also known as polio).
Protection for young children: vaccinating against measles
Measles, on the other hand, is still a major cause of death for children in many countries around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) wanted to eradicate the disease by 2020. But in recent years, the number of infections has increased by as much as 30 percent. According to the WHO, this is also due to the increasing number of vaccination opponents.
Science is still researching an HIV vaccine. And the new vaccines against the Corona virus give hope for a way out of the pandemic. Research has never responded so quickly to a new pathogen as to the coronavirus.
Numbers& Facts about vaccination in Germany and worldwide
– Every year, an estimated 1.5 million children under the age of five die worldwide from diseases from which they would have been protected by available vaccinations. – Children from the poorest families in developing countries and emerging markets are particularly affected. They in particular are often already weakened by malnutrition. – In Syria, polio has reappeared in 2013: In the civil war, standard vaccinations fail and the health system is weak. – Due to high vaccination rates, measles has become so rare that North and South America, for example, are considered measles-free. In Germany, on the other hand, the numbers are rising again: from 325 in 2016 to 594 in 2019. – In 2018, around 89 people fell ill in the WHO European region.000 people from measles. The number of measles cases was thus 15 times higher than in 2016. In 2019, there have been 103.000 measles cases reported from the region. – Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only countries where the highly contagious natural form of the polio virus is still present. In August 2020 there was also an outbreak in Yemen.
Vaccination pro and contra: Objections of vaccination opponents
It is often said that those who do not get vaccinated are only putting themselves at risk. But there are also people who cannot be vaccinated, for example because of chronic illnesses. They depend on others to be vaccinated and to prevent the spread of dangerous pathogens. Then one speaks of herd immunity.
What is herd immunity?
Herd immunity refers to an indirect form of protection against a contagious disease. This means that a certain percentage of the population must be immune to prevent the spread of the disease. Immunization can happen through infection or vaccination.
Once herd immunity is achieved, pathogens have fewer opportunities to spread," they say. Chains of infection are broken more quickly; the disease spreads more slowly. Even non-immune people will be better protected. So getting vaccinated yourself helps protect the community at the same time.
How to achieve herd immunity?
When herd immunity is achieved, i.e. when enough people in the population have been vaccinated, depends on the pathogen in question. The more contagious an infectious disease is, the more people need to be immune to it.
In the case of measles, herd protection only takes effect once a so-called vaccination coverage rate of 95 percent has been reached; in the case of diphtheria, 80 percent can suffice.
According to the WHO, 60 to 70 percent of the population must be immune to the virus in order to effectively combat the Corona pandemic.
The World Health Organization (WHO) placed vaccination refusal on the top ten list of global health threats in 2019.
Risks, side effects and the pharmaceutical industry
Fear of side effects often keeps people from vaccinating. While the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) points out that vaccines can have side effects. But the risk of not being vaccinated is much greater. In other words, the consequences of many diseases are usually more severe than the consequences of a vaccination.
Regarding the prejudice that the pharmaceutical industry wants to make money with vaccinations, the RKI says: "Private companies want to make money with their products – this also applies to the pharmaceutical industry. However, they say the vaccine business is less attractive to them because vaccines are more extensive and more expensive to produce than drugs. In addition, vaccination can avoid expensive treatments and the suffering of patients and their families. It's better for everyone in the long run.
Conspiracy narratives in the Corona pandemic
Since the start of the Corona pandemic in March 2020, conspiracy narratives surrounding the virus and vaccination have been on the rise.
Many of these conspiracy narratives promote anti-Semitic or racist prejudices. But finger-pointing does not help against the global corona crisis, nor against uncertainties and fear, summarizes the Amadeu Antonio Foundation. "No one benefits from a global pandemic, because no one is safe from it."
Corona& Vaccines: What is the situation in poorer countries?
In Europe, the USA and other regions of the world, people have been able to be vaccinated against the coronavirus since the end of 2020. At the same time, many poorer countries are still not receiving any vaccine at all – or not enough.
Yet it is precisely these people who are hard hit by the effects of the virus. "This is mainly due to the constraints and economic consequences of the pandemic", Says a staff member of our alliance organization Malteser International.
The international children's aid organization World Vision, an alliance member of Aktion Deutschland Hilft, calls for concrete measures and global solidarity to enable people in the global South to have access to vaccines against COVID-19.
The emergence of a mutated form of the virus has shown that the pandemic "is only really over when it's over everywhere", they say. Globally, people most at risk would need to be vaccinated first. This included refugees in overcrowded camps as well as health workers.
Vaccination protects: How our alliance helps!
Many of our alliance organizations provide help in the medical field. Often the helpers work together with local professionals. They set up clinics, train medical staff and advise people on things like how to protect themselves and their families during the Corona pandemic.
Vaccination is also part of some aid projects; for example, vaccinations for children under one year of age. It gives them life-saving protection against preventable diseases such as polio, tuberculosis, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, hepatitis B and measles.