World Immunization Week – celebrated between 24 – 30 April every year – aims to promote public awareness on the essence of immunization as a fundamental platform to protect millions of people against communicable diseases, leading causes of death. One of the most effective strategies considerably recognized in the world is vaccination as it has contributed to an achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Pertaining to an existing of COVID 19 pandemic, numbers of researchers have accelerated the development and production of new vaccines as a hope amid the coronavirus crisis and cultivated an awareness on the importance of the vaccines.
Whereas there are numbers of people still misunderstood toward vaccination as they believed that it may adversely affected to health, causing learning disorder and disabilities. However, physicians from countries around the world have guaranteed that vaccination is highly safe and necessary in order to stop a spread of harmful diseases, leading tremendous population into risky circumstances and death.
Professor Emeritus Somsak Lolekha, Chairman of the Royal College of Pediatricians of Thailand, President of Pediatric Society of Thailand and the medical pioneer of regulations on a use of antibiotic for infectious diseases and nosocomial infection who established Infectious Disease Association of Thailand, Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of Thailand and Asian Society of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and the first President who is a co-founder of Asia-Pacific Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infection as well as serving as the President of World Society of Pediatric Infectious Diseases stated that “Building an immunization is very essential for living, at present, in particular on the situation of an emerging of infectious disease that currently spreading as COVID 19. Normally, human body has a mechanism to build immunity in order to cope with diseases encompassing 2 key systems namely, 1) Innate Immunity which is naturally produced by our bodies with a potential to prevent and destroy pathogens or foreign substances regardless of any specific kind of pathogen but to protect us from many diseases. This immunity system shall be altered in relation to age, gene, hormone and nutritious background of each person and 2) Adaptive Immunity which shall be produced after our bodies acquiring foreign substances and the response is specific to the pathogen presented through one of the subtypes of the white blood cell called Lymphocyte which can memorize the pathogen and be able to later respond more specifically, rapidly and effectively”.
In case of production of immunity by vaccine, it is the method to let our bodies getting used to the pathogens without causing any harms, so as to produce an active and lasting immune response. It is similar to an exercise of the army and once the body acquiring pathogens or facing real infection, the substance called antigens in the vaccine shall stimulate our bodies to produce antibodies or elements to fight diseases.
Prof. Somsak Lolekha added that, at present, medical evolution has significantly progressed, and technology has fostered people to live longer as an average period life expectancy of the Thai people has improved from 40 – 50 years in the past to 70 – 80 years at present. It is the need for taking good care of our health in order to live longer without illness, therefore, prevention is much better than treatment whereas building is much better than fixing since it enables our bodies to fight diseases in the sustainable way. While we has placed our hopes on COVID – 19 vaccine, there are 4 easy ways of staying healthy: 1) exercising regularly to strengthen our heart and lungs, 2) eating nutritious 5 food groups including dietary supplement and vitamins especially those who need Zinc or Vitamin D to boost immune system. Zinc are found in nuts, sesame, seaweed, meat, fish, and eggs whereas Vitamin D is obtained from sunlight, 3) having enough sleep is also needed since it helps us to cope with diseases and fosters our immunity and 4) being happy because those who are living with stress or depression shall have lower immunity.
Prof. Somsak Lolekha viewed that “In case the vaccine is achievably produced and announced, its high price and limited amount, at an early period, shall place a need to curtail groups of people to access such vaccine and those who are in highest risk should be in the first priority to acquire namely 1) group of aging people since their immunity are deteriorated, in particular if they are 80 of age, and 2) group of people with congenital diseases with lower immunity such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease and obesity, especially those with more than 100 kilograms of weight are in high risk since they have trouble breathing caused from their belly fat that decreased the amount of room for their lungs. Once the vaccine is announced to use, the government should oversee unless only wealthy people can access this vaccine.
Moreover, children under 9 years old should be reconsidered since they are in the age that immunity is best produced which is the innate immunity to fight new pathogens. It concerns us that children who get infected may spread the illness to the elderly in the family. On contrary, there are still other child diseases of which parents should be aware and should have their children to receive vaccines as timely needed since those diseases can cause death if not prevented such as Diphtheria, Tetanus, Poliomyelitis, Measles, Viral Hepatitis B and Influenza.
Vaccination is necessary to lower mortality rates of the population from preventable diseases. It is an immunization for good quality of life and secure health and well-being for Thai people.