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World Immunization Week

Since 2012, the last week of April has been World Immunization Week. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 5 children are missing routine immunizations. With nearly 20% of the world’s population at risk for diseases such as measles, whooping cough, and other preventable diseases, there are close to 1.5 million deaths annually that could be averted. As part of World Immunization Week, we at NeedyMeds want to spread awareness on the importance of vaccinations and the resources available for those in need.

 

In a previous blog post, we shared a graph that compared the morbidity of illnesses from the years before the vaccine was developed to the year 2000. All the applicable diseases—smallpox, diphtheria, measles, mumps, whooping cough, polio, rubella, tetanus, and influenza type b—decreased in morbidity in the United States by 95-100%.

 

file6251297827697Vaccinations help keep diseases such as polio and measles in check. Fifteen years ago, measles was declared eradicated in the United States by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since that time there have more than 120 cases of measles, including an outbreak last year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that with vaccines they will save 732,000 American lives and prevent 21 million hospital visits for Americans born in the last 20 years.

 

According to Marvin M. Lipman, MD, Consumer Reports’ chief medical advisor, “Each year, at least 30,000 people die from complications related to vaccine-preventable diseases.” The onset of immunity and its duration varies from vaccine to vaccine. There are vaccines that are good for ten years, five years, and even vaccines that need to be renewed yearly. Dr. Lipman states, “Getting the right shots doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get sick, but it will significantly improve your odds.”

 

It is worth noting that hardly any medicine can be considered 100% effective; for example, the measles vaccine is 93-97% effective with one or two doses, respectively. This means that three to seven out of 100 vaccinated people will still get measles if exposed to the virus. Measles is so highly infectious that 90% of unvaccinated people who come close to an infected person will contract the virus. With this knowledge, being unvaccinated for infectious diseases is not only putting oneself in danger of serious illness, but also the community at large.

 

For those in need of assistance, our database of free, low-cost, and sliding-scale clinics has information on nearly 3000 clinics that offer immunization services. Search your zip code to find medical clinics near you that may offer free or low-cost immunizations. Pharmaceutical companies also offer Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) such as Vaccine Patient Assistance Program and the GSK Vaccine Access Program for uninsured adults.

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