30.06.2017 A vaccination protects those close to you
Protection with vaccination. To have yourself vaccinated against an infectious disease not only protects you – it also protects those close to you, and helps to protect the whole population.
Apart from your own protection, vaccination is also important for people in your immediate vicinity who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons or whose protection due to vaccination is inadequate, such as infants and people with immune deficiency. It is also relevant for the general public. When the proportion of immune people in a population reaches a certain level, a pathogen can no longer spread and people who are not immune are also protected. This is referred to as ‘herd immunity’. As a result, certain diseases can actually be eradicated by vaccination. Vaccination therefore contributes to public welfare.
Decreased awareness of the risk of infection
In the past, serious diseases such as smallpox and polio have been suppressed or eradicated by vaccination, so that only a few people are aware of their effects based on their own experience. The fear of rare side effects of vaccination has sometimes been greater than the fear of the disease that vaccination was intended to prevent.
Even now, various infectious diseases that can be prevented by vaccination are capable of causing severe complications.
Increase awareness of relatives – protect family members
As part of its promotion of vaccinations, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) would also like to address more people regarding their role as relatives of those at risk.
- Young parents have been addressed with the slogan "My vaccination – your protection." since 2016. If they have not been immunised against measles and whooping cough, parents can infect infants with these diseases if the infants have not yet been vaccinated. Both measles and whooping cough can cause dangerous complications in infants. Close relatives of the child should therefore check their immune status at an early stage, and have the necessary vaccinations if necessary.
- A brochure on influenza prevention is currently in preparation, which addresses people close to those who are advised to have flu vaccinations. For many people in Switzerland, influenza vaccination is not an issue, as they don’t have an increased risk of complications. But many of them do have close contact with parents and/or grandparents – and people over 65 constitute the largest sector of the population with an increased risk of complications due to a flu infection. Seniors can only protect themselves against a flu infection to a limited extent, because the immune system of older people often responds poorly to vaccination. Serious complications of a flu infection can permanently restrict their autonomy and mobility. Vaccinating their close contacts decreases this risk.
Andrea Valero, Prevention and Promotion Section, email@example.com