All parents want what is best for their child. We all spend so much time and resources searching for the best parenting advice, healthiest food choices, suitable clothing and schools to attend, etc. And thankfully, we live in times where many of those great things are available for the majority of us to choose from. And then, just try to imagine what life looked like only a hundred years ago. There were not many families which managed to avoid infant and child death. Also, many of the children who had reached school-age suffered from many consequences that impacted their health or the quality of their lives. Not to mention that people aged 50 or even less were considered very old.
According to available data, the global average life expectancy has since 1900 more than doubled and is now above 70 years. Of course, it significantly varies between countries, but it has overall drastically increased. What happened in the last hundred years that increased life expectancy so much?
Firstly, we became more conscious of the importance of daily hygiene. For example, today, no one would eat their sandwich without washing their hands first. Availability of water and soap in every household prevented billions of diseases and saved countless lives. Just plain water and soap!
Secondly, enhanced medical care and medicines are widely accessible. Many diseases that people died from before are now “just a cough and a two-week-long bed rest”. (This does not imply that we should not take proper care while being ill.) And, of course, medications should always be taken as prescribed by a medical professional, and medical advice should be followed.
Thirdly, improved nutrition. We are now aware of the importance of a well-balanced diet. We all force our kids to regularly eat their fruits and veggies and hide the candy away. We know that if we teach them right when they are young, they will make the right choices when they grow up. Likewise, high-quality food is available all year round, so we can choose the right produce to give our children.
All of the mentioned above remarkably helped in increasing life expectancy. Still, probably the most important thing that contributed to the increase are vaccines. Vaccination provides immunity for babies and children since they could not gain it by themselves yet. It also provides immunity for the elderly since theirs has weakened over time. Vaccines are nowadays available for more than 25 different preventable infections. I believe the keyword here is preventable. Who would not like to prevent something as awful as a disease which can make you really sick, cause irreparable damage or even kill you?
The first vaccinations (against smallpox) in Europe began back at the end of the 18th century by taking pus from infected people to scratch it into an arm of a non-infected person. Since then, countless scientists and pharmaceutical companies have developed and improved many vaccines for hard or impossible diseases to cure. Almost all countries worldwide have established vaccination plans for the whole population, starting from newborns to the elderly. Those plans have been developed by scientists and medical professionals following the occurrence probability of a disease in a particular country and the recommended age of the person being vaccinated.
When you have your baby, you want the best for him or her, as said. This is precisely why you have to do your research. Talk to your pediatrician, look for medical consultation available in your area, whether in person, over a phone, or electronically; ask for a specialist’s advice. Every person is different and needs a personalized approach, so does your child. That is why you should trust educated professionals, and, if you think you need it, ask for a second opinion. But, in any case, you should vaccinate your child. Not when you (especially if you are not a medical professional!) think and with what you have faith in, but at a time prescribed by professionals and with a trusted vaccine. Why would you let your child get seriously sick or even die if you could prevent it with something which is easily accessible and safe? Many of the diseases we are vaccinated against killed countless people just 50 years ago; most of them were mere children for whom the vaccines were not available (because the vaccine for that particular disease was not found yet!) and were not able to get medical care either.
Of course, vaccines, like all other medicines, cause side effects. It is vital to notice that not all side effects occur to all people and that all are not severe. Most of the side effects are minor compared to the issue the disease could cause, but it is important to mention that they occur. Taking this into consideration, this is why everyone should be vaccinated by a medical professional in a medical institution.
Moreover, if you vaccinate your child, you will protect the other children and people who cannot be vaccinated, primarily due to medical reasons. As said, there are immunization plans in place in all countries, and children get vaccinated when they reach a certain age. There are many cases infants and babies got ill and even died because they were too young to be immunized against that particular disease. Also, many elders are not fully vaccinated simply because that specific vaccination did not exist when they were younger. Hence, by vaccinating your child, you indirectly protect the other members of the community.
Besides, probably not visible at a first glance, you help eliminate the disease on a global scale by vaccinating your children. For example, vaccination against smallpox is no longer necessary in many countries because the disease is eradicated, all thanks to the vaccination programs. At the moment, polio is close to being eliminated as well.
In the end, it is worth mentioning that if you decide not to vaccinate your child, you can face the consequences. For example, some daycare facilities require the children are fully immunized before admission and do not accept non-vaccinated children.
To conclude, we all want the best for our children, to be happy and healthy. We try very hard to provide the best for them in every aspect of their lives and wish to protect them. That is why you should vaccinate your child because it will bring him/her benefits that were unimaginable just a hundred years ago. Before taking any action, always make an informed decision and talk to a medical professional.