PPA urges parents not to compromise on immunization of children

KARACHI: The Pakistan Paediatric Association (PPA) has urged parents not to compromise on immunization of children as it saves them from illness, disability and death from vaccine-preventable diseases.

The PPA made this appeal at a press briefing organised here on Thursday to mark World Immunization Week (April 24-30).

Dr Khalid Shafi, General Secretary PPA, said that life-threatening infectious diseases can be treated and controlled through immunization which also reduces the diseases burden.

“Vaccines also play a major role in eliminating and preventing diseases including diphtheria, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, pertussis (whooping cough), pneumonia, polio, rotavirus diarrhoea, rubella and tetanus.

“Every year due to vaccines, approximately 3,000,000 deaths are prevented. Immunization is estimated to save 2-3 million lives every year. An estimated 19.5 million infants worldwide are still missing out on basic vaccines.

“If the optimum rates of immunization or ‘herd immunity’ are not maintained, the diseases prevented by vaccination will return.”

While talking about facts of the deadliest preventable diseases in Pakistan, Dr. M.N.Lal, Treasurer PPA, said, “In Pakistan, rotavirus leads to 1 out of 3 infant hospitalizations and almost every child gets infected with Rotavirus by their 5th birthday.

“Moreover, Pneumococcal meningitis is the most common form of meningitis and the most serious form of bacterial meningitis. Very young children—as young a few months old and up to the age of 2, are at the highest risk of pneumococcal meningitis.

“Similarly, polio is a highly infectious viral disease that can cause irreversible paralysis. Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus, which usually results in a high fever and rash, and can lead to blindness, encephalitis or death. Hepatitis B is a viral infection that attacks the liver.”

Dr. Jamil Akhtar, Chairman PPA Karachi Chapter, stressing the need for vaccination said that “vaccination can reduce the usage of some antibiotics. So, they can tackle the problem of antibiotic resistance. Vaccines activate antibodies that fight off the disease at hand, without actually giving you the disease. They trick us into fighting a disease we don’t have, so that our body is prepared to fight it off if were are exposed it in the future”.

He added that every year, vaccines prevent 6 million deaths worldwide. Vaccines are the most affordable solution when it comes to preventing certain healthy hazards, he added.