There are many false­hoods around vac­cines. Arm your­self with the truth

Your Baby & Toddler - - Front Page - BY ANNA SUT­TON

Myth #1

Po­lio has in­deed been elim­i­nated in South Africa — we haven’t had any cases since 1989. How­ever, there is still po­lio cir­cu­lat­ing in the world. “While there is still some ‘wild type’ po­lio cir­cu­lat­ing in the world, no one is safe against po­lio and that is why we con­tinue to be vac­ci­nated,” says Dr Melinda Suchard of the Cen­tre for Vac­cines and Im­munol­ogy at the Na­tional In­sti­tute for Com­mu­ni­ca­ble Dis­eases (NICD).

In­fec­tions for dis­eases you are vac­ci­nated for may be low in South Africa, but if too many peo­ple don’t vac­ci­nate their chil­dren they open up op­por­tu­ni­ties for dis­eases to (re-)en­ter our pop­u­la­tion and spread. With global travel be­ing so preva­lent, all it takes is one in­fected per­son to ar­rive in South Africa and you (and your chil­dren) will be at risk. In­deed, one baby in Kwazulu-natal died two years ago from diph­the­ria, while five more were crit­i­cally ill. These may seem like small num­bers, but they are alarm­ing facts when you con­sider that these chil­dren needn’t have caught diph­the­ria at all.

The rea­son peo­ple may feel that they no longer need to be vac­ci­nated for these dis­eases is ac­tu­ally be­cause of the suc­cess of vac­cines, says Dr Suchard. “Be­cause these dis­eases are so rare we have lost our fear of them. But if you speak to your grand­par­ents about these types of dis­eases, they can tell you hor­ri­ble sto­ries about how com­mon they were and the side ef­fects they have and the deaths they caused.” in chil­dren. “Some par­ents may be lucky and their child may have a mild in­fec­tion, but for the one un­lucky par­ent whose child be­comes blind or deaf from menin­gi­tis caused by haemophilus or measles, there is no go­ing back. The com­pli­ca­tions of these in­fec­tions are well known, are highly pos­si­ble and likely and one shouldn’t take them lightly,” says Dr Suchard.

Do you have friends or fam­ily plan­ning on start­ing a fam­ily? Con­sider their safety too. Women in­fected with measles while preg­nant are at risk of se­vere com­pli­ca­tions and the preg­nancy may end in mis­car­riage or preterm de­liv­ery.

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