Vaccines don’t just save lives. They fight poverty too, new research shows

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate.

For years, parents worldwide have slowly been grappling with the decision to vaccinate their children. Some parents sight a plethora of personal reasons why they choose not to vaccinate – even suggesting conspiracy theories.

Despite the fact that vaccines are easily available and proven scientifically-safe and virtually harmless, many parents continue to opt out of it.

And now, it the world is suffering the deadly consequence.

A measles outbreak is devastating America, infecting children in several states including Washington and Oregon. Thousands more are suffering around the world.

The Philippines is also fighting its own battle. The country is facing an outbreak, with more than 150 children reportedly killed by the measles virus.

Why are vaccines important?

Vaccines have helped save billions of lives. It has prevented children from dying on a massive scale.

Still don’t believe it?

Let’s take smallpox for example. In what was labeled as “the scourge of the world,” smallpox has killed an estimated 300 million people in the 20th century alone.

But now, thanks to routine childhood vaccinations, what used to be one of the most terrible diseases in the world, no longer exists outside of a laboratory dish tray.

Vaccinations help prevent a host of deadly diseases that used to ravage their way around the world. Some of which are:

  • polio
  • diptheria (whooping cough)
  • rubella (German measles)
  • tetanus
  • mumps
  • rotavirus
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)

Imagine a world where these diseases are dominant again. The effect would be more than devastating. Even scientists, health experts, and doctors agree that vaccines work.

Johns Hopkins public health expert Daniel Salmon explains the ramifications if fewer children become vaccinated.

He says:

“Unvaccinated children are at increased risk of acquiring disease and transmitting these diseases to other children. Drops in vaccine coverage have resulted in outbreaks and resurgence of diseases.

“Vaccine refusal has been associated with outbreaks of invasive Haemophilus influenzae type b disease, varicella, pneumococcal disease, measles, and pertussis in the United States and other countries.

“For example, parts of Europe have seen large outbreaks of measles as some parents are refusing measles vaccines for their children amid safety concerns. In the 1970s and 1980s, many countries—Japan, the U.K., Sweden—saw a major resurgence of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, as safety concerns led to substantial drops in pertussis vaccine coverage.

But now, new research shows that vaccines fight poverty, too.

In a groundbreaking study, Dr. Angela Chang, PhD and fellow at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, shows how vaccines don’t just serve as disease-prevention, they fight poverty too.

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Dr. Chang studied dozens of vaccines and vaccination campaigns in developing countries worldwide. She used analysis and statistical modeling to observe the correlation between vaccine coverage and medical impoverishment.

NOW READ: How Katipunan became the catalyst that sparked the Philippine revolution

What she discovered, is that vaccines prevent individuals from developing countries from having low income and slipping into poverty.

In an interview with UN Dispatch, Dr. Chang discussed exactly how:

“At a national level, we know that vaccines are impact in terms of saving lives and reducing morbidity and mortality. That’s clear. What was new in this study is the impact on different income groups.

“We found that the poorest households would likely receive the most benefit from increased access to vaccines. It’s because of the underlying risks that they have are much higher than other people’s.

How do vaccines prevent people from developing parts of the world into slipping down even deeper into the poverty ladder?

For this, Dr. Chang cites an example:

“For example – HPVs. HPV vaccines are considered highly effective in preventing cervical cancer. HPV virus is, I think, the biggest and the only factor that determines whether the person gets cervical cancer later in life or not. And cervical cancer, like most cancers, are fairly expensive to treat.

“If a girl or boy receives the vaccine early on, they are much less likely, if at all, to get cervical cancer. And therefore, prevent that cost that the household may have had to pay.

“And that money could be used for other things that are important for the household.”

In a nutshell

Vaccines work. They are routinely available. And they don’t even cost you all that much.

But they don’t just help humans from deadly diseases. Vaccines don’t just save our children.

They save the world from poverty, too.

Because when people go through vaccination, they are safe from diseases that are very costly to treat. In turn, this saves already-impoverished households thousands of dollars of medical expenses.

Vaccines help save people in the developing countries, and even in America, from being medically-impoverished.

What do you think? What is your stand on vaccination?

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Written by Genefe Navilon

Genefe Navilon is a writer, poet, and blogger. She graduated with a degree in Mass Communications at the University of San Jose Recoletos. Her poetry blog, Letters To The Sea, currently has 18,000 followers. Her work has been published in different websites and poetry book anthologies. She divides her time between traveling, writing, and working on her debut poetry book.

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