Monday, July 23, 2012

50 years of Vaccines and Play Dress-Up

Watching my kids grow out of their clothes into new ones was one of my favorite things to see.  I loved our time when we played dress -up for hours and dreamed of the people my kids would become as they grew older.  I remember my children dressing up as a doctor, an artist, attorney, etc. and of how wonderful it felt to dress up and play these roles.  Now that my children have grown up and are preparing to contribute to humanity with the roles of responsibility that they played as children.  It all makes me more grateful for the blessing of vaccines and the protection they provide to ensure children live to grow and play dress-up, and dream.
For the last 50 years the continued development and use of vaccines has been one of the most cost-effective ways for saving lives and preventing illness that kill our children, especially children in developing countries.  Routine Vaccinations campaigns have prevented the deaths of hundreds of millions of people and saved billions of dollars in public health expenditures.  Just to give an idea how effective in saving lives vaccines have been, look at some interesting facts.
Smallpox:            Smallpox was responsible for an estimated 300 – 500 million deaths.  In 1967 the World Health Organization (WHO) that 15 million people contracted the disease… and 2 million died of it that year.  But now, thanks to vaccines, smallpox is eradicated.
Polio:                   After World War II polio was one of the most feared diseases in the USA.  In 1952 it is estimated that 21,000 people in the US – mostly children – were permanently paralyzed because of polio.  Thanks to polio vaccinations, five million people that otherwise be paralyzed are walking and polio cases are down 99%... down to 1349 cases in a year.
Measles:              Measles are far more contagious than chickenpox, leading to deafness, blindness, encephalitis and death.  In May 2011 the Measles Initiative announced that it had vaccinated over one billion children in 60 countries – decreasing deaths globally by over 78%. 
Pneumonia:     Pneumococcal is a bacterial disease that can cause meningitis and pneumonia.  Pneumonia one of the common symptom accounts for 18% of child deaths in developing countries.  In 2010 the GAVI Alliance began a program to introduce pneumococcal vaccinations to more of 40 countries by 2015.  Once at full capacity, the program would save 700,000 lives.
Rotavirus:    Claim the lives of more the half a million children under the age of five and almost two million more became severely ill.  In Mexico, diarrhea-related child deaths decreased by 46% following the introduction of the rotavirus vaccine in 2006.  That represents a decreased of 880 deaths for year.
I am so familiar with the rotavirus and the effects of the lack of vaccines in my own country, Mexico.  As a former nurse there, I saw many children and their parents suffer the effects of not being vaccinated.  Sometimes because they didn’t have the economic resources or because they live too far away to get to a clinic in time to get vaccinate and receive medical care.  In our immunizations campaigns in rural areas, mothers will walk for miles and make long lines in the hot sun waiting for the vaccines.  I saw the scars of polio, chickenpox, measles in some moms and dads and can saw how afraid they were we don’t have enough vaccines for all.  They knew so well the pain and agony of losing a precious child’s life. They knew the power of vaccines and they love their children so much that they will wait all day if need it.
Rotavirus claim the lives of people very close to me.  As of matter of fact in 1970 my first nephew die of Rotavirus because my older brother live in a tiny town faraway without access to vaccines and medical care.  Many children die before we have the rotavirus vaccine.
 It is amazing to me the progress and the many lives that can be saved by vaccines.  It is even more amazing that I was born in a developing country in a time a place that my parents were able to give me a shot of life, play dress with some of my peers and see my children play dress and dream too.  Sadly many of my same age Mexican friends citizens were not lucky enough because they were born in a rural community that don’t have access to immunizations and medical care and as consequence many of them die from easily preventable diseases.

In developing countries many children never grow up to play dress up and dream of what they will be when they are older instead  the only play dress up that they will wear is the funeral clothes that they will wear in their funeral.  So many children die every 20 seconds children like the beautiful face of this picture.    We have the power to change that statistic and make sure that mothers around the world have the chance to see their children live, dream and play dress up.