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Health Prevention and Immunizations/Vaccinations

April 23rd, 2021
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Immunization is one of the most important components of community health. Vaccination in children under the age of 2 years remains one of the leading indicators of the health of any nation globally. Vaccines are designed to improve immune response against microbial pathogens. Many children receive the required vaccines against deadly pathogens such as the ones causing polio and measles. Those who fail to get different types of immunizations are at an increased risk of having the respective infections. Therefore, children should strictly receive the recommended vaccines by adhering to the immunization schedule to protect them against preventable infections despite the presence of barriers, which can equally be resolved.

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Immunization Schedule Adherence

Immunization is a requirement for every parent to take all newborns for a series of vaccines, including BCG, polio, pneumococcal, pentavalent, rotavirus, measles, and vitamin vaccines among others. Vaccines play a role in the protection of children from acquiring such infections in the later stages of their lives. One problem that has been observed concerning the process of immunization is the adherence to the set immunization schedule. Most parents have found it a big challenge to fully adhere to the set schedule to ensure that their children are immunized at the right time and with the right vaccines. In some situations, children are brought to be immunized against diseases using vaccines like the BCG when they are way past the minimum set date. The situation is continuously becoming a community health issue and a significant challenge to both healthcare providers and the government.

Population Affected

The population most affected by the issue is children born to parents living in low-income areas like slum dwellers. This community is easily affected by the problem because of their poor life conditions. Such children are just victims of circumstances that do not depend directly on them. When parents have a low income to sustain them, several factors lead to them being unable to adhere to the set immunization schedule. One of the factors includes limited access to health facilities. Slums host a large population living in a small area with adverse living conditions. Some of these people have restricted access to health facilities like hospitals and health centers because the available ones may not be able to support the whole population. Other factors such as distance and costs also influence people’s ability to access health facilities.

The population affected qualifies to be called a community because it has all the characteristics of a population. It is a community because it is a group of people living in a particular geographical location. The population shares several things in common, such as their identity, norms, values, religion, and education facilities among others. The members of this population also have social ties that keep them together as a unit, hence giving the sense of being a community. Most of the people living in this setting work in the same places, as well as share social amenities like schools, churches, and hospitals. The members of the population also share similar problems since they are generally in the same social class and their average income is almost similar.

Immunization Adherence as a Community Health Issue and Its Potential Impacts

The problem of poor adherence to the vaccination schedule is a major community health issue because it impacts the population at both the community and family levels. In such a situation where a large number of people living in a particular geographical location are affected, it becomes a major community health issue. In case vaccines are not administered to children as per the schedule that is recommended, such children are not only affected by failing to get the appropriate protection but they are also placed at an increased risk of not completing the course of vaccination. It is during the early ages that children are most vulnerable to the majority of these conditions and so immunization helps to protect them from most of these preventable diseases. Therefore, lack of adherence to the specific schedule compromises the success of the immunization program among children in the affected community.

The impact of this issue is far and wide, and it not only affects the community but also stretches up to the policy level. Children who are not adequately immunized are at an increased risk of acquiring preventable conditions like polio, pertussis, measles, gastroenteritis, tuberculosis, and diphtheria among others. Some of these diseases are communicable, meaning that when one child acquires any of them, the whole community is at an increased risk of contracting the same condition. Poor adherence to the immunization schedule puts a significant burden on healthcare providers since they are not able to conduct proper and adequate follow up due to the mass confusion. Policy makers and vaccine suppliers are also affected since the data that they eventually receive are compromised due to the inconsistencies that exist in immunization registers. Overall, poor adherence to the immunization schedule has numerous adverse effects on the health of the community in general.

Solutions and Barriers

The creation of awareness is one of the best ways of curbing this issue. First, the community should be made aware that there exists a problem that needs a solution. Communication is extremely significant, including the way in which it is conducted. The first way is ensuring that all pregnant mothers have access to antenatal clinic services. During antenatal visits, parents should be adequately educated on the significance of immunization and the importance of adhering to the vaccination schedule.

Second, community workshops, awareness campaigns, and rallies can be organized in social places like markets and religious institutions to educate the community on this issue. Such social places host many people and make it easy to relay information to a large number at a given time. These forums are easy to use in creating awareness and so provide a good solution to the problem.

Some of the barriers that may be confronted include the myths and misconceptions that exist among people about vaccines. Those living in slums tend to have certain beliefs concerning conventional medicine. Due to the ignorance and lack of information, such beliefs prevent these people from accessing medical services. Consequently, such myths and misconceptions present a barrier because one needs to dispel such beliefs first before convincing people of the significance of seeking medical attention.

The challenge of inadequate income and low economic status of the population also presents a significant barrier. Most of the time people may not have enough funds to support their movement and other extended services in medical facilities. Individuals with low levels of income are also characterized by ignorance and inadequate information, hence making it hard to reach the target population.

Conclusion

There still exists a significant problem when it comes to adherence to the immunization schedule. This issue has adverse effects on children, the community, and the entire nation. Poorly immunized children put the immediate community at risk and also present healthcare providers with a colossal challenge when it comes to managing the whole immunization program. Awareness should be created among the community members through all the available avenues, and all pregnant mothers should receive proper antenatal care.

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