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Blog - Prevent. Protect. Immunise.

In this modern day and age with so many amazing new technologies available to fight serious illness, why are we still seeing so many people in hospital with diseases that could be prevented by a simple, painless (yes really) injection? 

Prevent. Protect. Immunise. That’s the message from the World Health Organisation for European Immunisation Week.

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Vaccines first started to become widely available almost 100 years ago, since then millions of lives have been saved and when it comes to disease prevention, only clean water can compete on effectiveness. And to top that in the last 50 years, the vaccination scheme has saved more lives than any other medical procedure or product.

Since it was introduced in the UK in 1968, it is estimated that the measles vaccination has averted 20 million measles cases and 4,500 deaths and the rubella vaccine has averted an estimated 1,300 congenital rubella syndrome births and 25,000 terminations. In the UK we have eliminated polio, the flu vaccine is now offered to more people for free than ever before and hospital admissions for infectious stomach bug rotavirus are down 80% since a vaccine was introduced in 2013.

But it’s not all good news, here in Cornwall we see really high levels of vaccination in our babies – as high as 98%! But as we get older we are placing less importance on them, with only a quarter of people over the age of 70 having the shingles and pneumococcal injections. What is it about us getting older that makes us think we are less in need of protection?

In the past month we have seen unvaccinated children in Italy being banned from going to school in a bid to stop the spread of a measles outbreak. In America one county in the state of New York declared a state of emergency, again because of a large scale outbreak of measles. There have been multiple outbreaks of measles closer to home across Cornwall and the South West in the last year. All of which have been unnecessary and put lives at risk, when there is a vaccine to stop it happening in the first place.

In England we are meeting global uptake figures, but Public Health England is seeing a drop in uptake rates, mainly because of false information online. Vaccines are safe. The risks linked to the MMR vaccine the claims made over 20 years ago about the MMR vaccine have been discredited and we know that the MMR is a safe and effective vaccine that will protect against 3 diseases. So there really is no logical reason why people wouldn’t want to protect themselves and their family through vaccination.

Getting vaccinated isn’t something we say you should do for the sake of it, we’re not trying to be a nanny state …they really do save lives. Getting your family immunisations up to date will protect you and your children. It’s easy to find out if your vaccinations are up to date, all you need to do is call your GP surgery, and they can also answer any questions you might have. There’s also a helpful page on the NHS website which tells you everything you need to know about our vaccination programmes.

Dr Ruth Goldstein is a Public Health Consultant for Cornwall Council who fully supports the science behind vaccinations. She was also a community pharmacist for 25 years and saw many people who were suffering unnecessarily ill health because they didn’t have their vaccinations. Dr Goldstein firmly believes there is no reason why people shouldn’t have their age appropriate free vaccinations, and we all have a responsibility to look after our and our family and friend’s health… so please help us to spread the word!


Story posted 18 April 2019

Some elements of content courtesy of Public Health England.