After the 2017 rubella saga, World Health Organisation reports that there has been a decline in the rate at which people take their children for vaccinations. The rubella vaccine is used to protect people from contagious diseases caused by a virus.
The ministry of health embarked on a nationwide measles and rubella vaccination campaign in February 2017, targeting children aged from nine months to 14 years. The 14-day campaign immunised 533 546 children, which represented 79 percent of the targeted children.
After the vaccine many parents were heard on social media platforms and the media claiming their children were adversely affected by the vaccines with side-effects that included severe body rashes, high fever and coughing.
According to health promotion officer Lesotho, Thato Mxakaza, the saga then resulted in poor registration of people vaccinating their children. “Most People even resorted to no longer vaccinating their kids at all.”
He, however, showed that parents should be aware that there may be consequences if they do not vaccinate their children; he mentioned disabilities as one of the negative effects of not vaccinating children.
According to WHO, immunization is vital for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, poverty reduction and universal health coverage.
Immunization is also a fundamental strategy in achieving other health priorities, from controlling viral hepatitis, to curbing antimicrobial resistance, and providing a platform for adolescent health and improving antenatal and new-born care.
“It prevents illness, disability and death from vaccine-preventable diseases including cervical cancer, diphtheria, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, pertussis (whooping cough), pneumonia, polio, rotavirus diarrhoea, rubella and tetanus,” WHO states.
WHO this week showed concern over social media platforms of health information, warning that misinformation about vaccines is as contagious and dangerous as the diseases it helps to spread.
“Misinformation about vaccination has spread far and fast on social media platforms in many different countries, including during critical vaccination campaigns like those for polio in Pakistan or yellow fever in South America.
“Social media platforms are the way many people get their information and they will likely be major sources of information for the next generations of parents. We see this as a critical issue and one that needs our collective effort to protect people’s health and lives.
“The truth is, vaccines work. Smallpox has been eradicated thanks to vaccines, and vaccines have brought us to the brink of eradicating polio. Rates of many other diseases including measles have been dramatically reduced thanks to the life-saving power of vaccines,” WHO statement reads.
It continue to show that vaccines are one of the most powerful innovations in the history of public health, and one of the best investments in a healthier, safer world. WHO estimates that vaccines save at least two million lives every year. Countless more children avoid debilitating diseases, prolonged hospital stays and time out of school.
At the same time, a social media response – while absolutely necessary – is just one part of a comprehensive approach to ensuring broad trust in vaccination; this also requires substantive efforts by governments in building health systems that are worthy of that trust and respond to parents’ needs and concerns.