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Health tip: Importance of vaccination

( en.nhfpc.gov.cn)

Updated: 2015-03-20

China's immunization program has been running for more than 30 years and infectious diseases have been eliminated due to a high vaccine level. As a result, these diseases become strange to many people, who stop taking vaccination seriously. However, experts said that there is no too much stressing the importance of vaccination.

An expert from the CDC immunization program center said that common vaccine could prevent disease that leads to grave damages. For example, people are generally susceptible to measles before vaccination, except newborns, who can be protected by their mothers’ antibodies for some time, while the disease could cause serious complications, including pneumonia, encephalitis and severe diarrhea.

Polio once ran rampant in China with more than 43,000 cases reported in 1964, and those who survived mostly have shown limbs flaccid paralysis and ended up permanently disabled. Epidemic encephalitis B once posed serious threats to children's health and 30,000 cases were reported in 1957, 150,000 in 1966 and 170,000 in 1971. Fatality rate peaked at 25 percent and patients have suffered disturbance of consciousness, dementia, aphasia and limb paralysis. Smallpox was eliminated in the 1960s, thanks to the country's cowpox vaccination.

China began to implement planned vaccination in 1978 and expanded its national vaccination program in 2007. A total of 14 vaccines have been offered for free to cover 15 diseases at the moment. China has seen more than 95 percent decline in attack and death rates from measles, pertussis, diphtheria, poliomyelitis, tuberculosis and tetanus over the past 30 years since planned vaccination kicked off. Poliomyelitis was eradicated in 2000. Public hepatitis B surface antigen carrying rate was brought from 9.75 percent in 1992 to 7.18 percent in 2006 since hepatitis B vaccine was applied. Less than one percent of those under 5 years old now carry the antigen.

The national immunization program has produced great economic and social benefits and plays an important role in protecting child health and increasing per capita life expectancy. Experts said that vaccination can not only protect vulnerable individuals, but also form group immunity barriers to prevent the onset and spread of related infectious diseases. Scientific practice has proved that more than 95 percent of children of proper age have to take two doses of vaccines to eliminate measles, and 90 percent have to be vaccinated to destroy polio. Vaccination rate should maintain at a high level to prevent diseases and low vaccination rate or no vaccination will not only predispose individuals to diseases but also fail to reach disease prevention among people.

Some individuals might experience adverse reactions after getting vaccination and elimination of many epidemics might make public resist vaccination, leading to resurgence of infectious diseases, as can be seen in the case of measles. Experts said that the great achievements in vaccination and infectious disease control over the years are hard to come by and need to be cherished and consolidated. Slight let-up will cause diseases to come back, making individuals and societies pay a heavy price then.

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Link: China's Central Government / World Health Organization / United Nations Population Fund / UNICEF in China

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