By Sabina Idayatova
Safe vaccines are a great contribution of medicine to reduce global child mortality, therefore, the government's care in this field is undeniable.
"The 13-valent vaccine will be used against pneumococcal infection in the coming years in Azerbaijan and thus children will be protected from all types of pneumonia," Deputy Director of the Republican Center for Hygiene and Epidemiology of the Azerbaijani Health Ministry, Afag Aliyeva, said in late March.
According to Aliyeva, the process of vaccination of children against pneumococcal infection is planned to start in the second half of this year.
The children under one year will be vaccinated with 10-valent vaccines three times. After the completion of preparations, the required quantity of vaccines will be imported into the country to launch the vaccination.
"The 10-valent vaccine is planned to be applied this year, which means the children will be protected from 10 different types of pathogens. The application of the 13-valent vaccine would mean the protection of children from 13 types of pathogens i.e. from all of them," Aliyeva said.
Aliyeva also noted that the application of 13-valent vaccine is planned in a year or two after the start of the usage of 10-valent vaccines.
The world's medical experts have now shown that vaccines, which were invented more than 200 years ago, are far safer than therapeutic medicines. Humanity`s lifesaver -- World Health Organization -- recommends all the countries to benefit from the immunization policy, however, some of the countries conduct an obligatory vaccination program, while the others do this voluntarily. The immunization program that is currently being implemented in 180 countries is carried out under supervision of the WHO and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Parents are primarily responsible for the child`s health, therefore, they should follow every step with the government`s support for the benefit of children`s health. Only a healthy child with parents' permission can be vaccinated by properly following the vaccination schedule.
The law of the Azerbaijan Republic on immunoprophylaxis of infectious diseases aimed at ensuring public health protection and sanitary-epidemiological well-being of the people was signed on April 14, 2000.
The children in Azerbaijan as in developed European countries are vaccinated against 10 infectious diseases. These include Hepatitis B (jaundice) vaccinated within 2-3 hours after the baby's birth; tuberculosis and poliomyelitis within 2-5 days after birth; pertussis, tetanus, diphtheria, poliomyelitis, and Hepatitis B, when the baby is two months old; poliomyelitis at the baby`s third month. Also, a mantoux test is conducted (against tuberculosis), then vaccination against measles, hives, mumps follows when the baby`s is one year old; an AKDS re-vaccination is done when the child is 1.8 years old. The child is vaccinated against tetanus, diphtheria at the age of 6; a vaccine against meningitis has been applied since 2011; a mantoux test is conducted for tuberculosis any time until the age of 18. One more vaccination -- against Haemophilia B -- has been conducted since 2012.
Besides mandatory vaccination, upon the personal request of parents, a child who has not caught water pox, rotavirus infection can be additionally vaccinated; furthermore human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccines can be applied for the girls at the age of 12-15. The vaccine against influenza is mostly used in fall/winter season beyond the state program and at the will of patients.
Before vaccination, children should be examined by a physician. If a child has any kind of illness or specific personal characteristics, the pediatrician makes a decision when and which kind of vaccine to use, and even sometimes prescribes a particular medicine to prepare the organism for the vaccination.
The vaccination is becoming voluntary in Azerbaijan. Some parents send a written notification on rejecting vaccination of their children, considering them "dangerous for health". But are they right fearing vaccination?
The widespread arguments of vaccine avoidance by parents are based on their suspicion over the quality and safety of injections as well as the reliability on the company that produced the vaccine.
"No vaccine is brought to Azerbaijan without the WHO`s approval," Deputy Health Minister Elsever Aghayev assures. "Azerbaijan imports vaccines manufactured by the WHO approved producers."
Results of the purposeful immuno-prevention measures suggest Azerbaijan has become a place free from poliomyelitis, though it was previously considered to be widespread in the country.
"Diphtheria and measles were not recorded in 2011, the [cases of] epidemic parotid fell by 27 per cent, and no outbreak has been recorded in acute intestinal infections. Malaria is in the state of elimination," Aghayev noted.
So, parents refusing vaccination put their children at risk. The children who are not vaccinated can contract various dangerous infections any time. The parents should know that in accordance with the international Convention on the Rights of the Child, the children have the rights to be assisted, protected from disease as well as to receive medical treatment. Thus, the parents avoiding vaccines violate the rights of children.
Parents should be informed by doctors on the possible organic reactions that can occur in the child`s body after vaccination; an unusual reaction should be taken into account. However, the complications requiring doctor intervention occur rarely. After the vaccination process the child should be protected from infections by limiting communication with other children and adults, as well as trying to remove allergic foods (eggs, fish, citrus fruits, nuts, chocolate, canned food, etc.) from the diet.
Though the children can be vaccinated in private clinics upon the will of their parents, obligatory vaccines in Azerbaijan are free of charge and administered in state clinics by the government in time.
Meanwhile, the Azerbaijani Health Ministry has started the use of electronic services to provide citizens with information about the schedule of immunization, the website of the ministry reported on Feb.12.
All the mobile operator subscribers will be allowed to use the services that are currently in the testing stage. In order to obtain the required information, citizens should send a message to 9103 containing the word "vaccination" and a unique code of the child in the electronic health card. Hereinafter, subscribers should be able to receive information on the date and title of the vaccine.
The electronic service on the provision of information regarding the immunization schedule is one of the e-services approved by the Cabinet of Ministers. The new service will be applied to the whole country.
The climate, environment and natural disasters also influence the type and the areas of application of the vaccines. Besides, in order to protect people visiting foreign countries from diseases widespread in different parts of the world or possible epidemics, Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry recommends that Azerbaijani citizens and the people coming to Azerbaijan from abroad be vaccinated as well as examined in the clinics assigned by the Health Ministry.
During the visits to foreign countries relevant vaccines are applied to the visitors. The kids at the age of 12 to 20 months are granted certificates of vaccination while leaving the country.
Furthermore, with the rise in global travel, there is an increased risk of contracting infectious diseases abroad. For example, in the case of the Muslim Hajj, local authorities require meningococcal ACWY vaccination and recommend various other vaccinations, such as influenza and hepatitis B, for pilgrims.
The most common vaccine-preventable diseases among travelers are influenza and Hepatitis A. Other vaccines to consider while traveling include rabies, Hepatitis B, typhoid, cholera, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and measles.
Vaccines protect not only yourself but also others around you, thus, the whole community. Vaccines are vital to the goal of preventing diseases to ensure public health. Furthermore, vaccination makes good economic sense and meets the need to care for the weakest members of society, leading to good public health and reducing inequities and poverty.