28 World Immunisation Week
Many people who were around in the first half of the Twentieth Century could tell of friends or relatives who caught infectious diseases such as diphtheria, polio and tuberculosis, of long spells in hospital (often in isolation), and for some life-changing or even fatal consequences. Nowadays it is very unusual to hear of someone contracting one of those diseases in this country, because for over 60 years people have received vaccinations against them in childhood, a programme that has increased to encompass measles, mumps, rubella (‘German measles’) and some strains of meningitis. Many a parent (and doctor or nurse) has felt bad about taking a happy baby/toddler into the consulting room and then taking out one who is crying and feeling a bit rough for a couple of days thereafter. But the alternative is unthinkable. We have become used to the annual ‘flu vaccine’, and there was news recently of work on a vaccine against malaria.
At the moment the word ‘vaccine’ immediately makes us think of the Covid-19 vaccination programme, the tremendous effort put into developing vaccines and rolling them out in countries like Britain. We have also seen a slower approach in other countries, and the resistance shown by some political leaders and sections of the population. There is a very small chance that something could go wrong, but the chance of catching a life-changing or fatal disease is much greater. While the focus is very much on Covid-19 vaccinations, the programmes for immunising the world against other infectious diseases needs to keep going – and sadly many are missing out on them. The World Health Organisation designates the last week of April as World Immunisation Week to remind us all that there are still many people around the world who have not had vaccinations against diseases long since largely eradicated here. And, as with Covid, until we are all vaccinated, the disease is still about and able to mutate. https://www.who.int/news-room/events/detail/2021/04/24/default-calendar/world-immunization-week-2021
Lord, thank you for the people who have worked so hard on developing, manufacturing and administering vaccines around the world. Inspire those who are being slow to implement vaccination programmes, reassure those worried about taking part that the risks are low especially when compared with the risks of not being vaccinated. Encourage countries to work together to vaccinate the world, and not think just of themselves. Be with all who are living through the Covid crisis in places like India and Brazil where health systems are stretched almost to breaking point