Op-Ed: Vaccination is a life and death decision
The modern vaccination system had its beginnings when in the 18th century Edward Jenner, an English doctor, pioneered the concept of vaccination by creating the smallpox vaccine. The name vaccine and vaccination derive from “Variolae, vaccinae,” the term created by Dr. Jenner to designate cowpox.
Smallpox is a contagious, disfiguring, and often fatal disease that has affected humans for thousands of years. Natural smallpox was eliminated worldwide in 1980 because of an unprecedented global immunization campaign. Thanks to Dr. Jenner’s development of the vaccine that eradicated the disease in 1980, it is estimated that more than 200 million lives have been saved.
Other vaccines soon followed, including cholera and plague vaccines created just before the First World War. Then, more vaccines came together to fight tuberculosis, tetanus, and diphtheria. After the war, the vaccines for whooping cough and polio were also added to the life-saving arsenal.
These vaccines provided the path to the modern practice of protecting by vaccinating children as early as six weeks after birth to prevent:
- Whooping Cough
So, if you have never suffered from any of these diseases, thank the vaccines.
The fascinating thing is that each vaccine costs less than $1, and each vaccine reduces the chances of children becoming infected by joining with other unvaccinated children.
Thanks to vaccines, the mortality rate in developed countries is among the lowest in history. A 2016 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-supported study found that for every $1 invested in vaccinations, $16 is saved in healthcare costs, lost wages, and productivity caused by illness and death. The study estimates that the return on preventing disease outweighs the investment of each dollar of vaccines by 44 times.
Analyzing this reality and considering that 96% of the population of developed countries and 80% of underdeveloped countries, thanks to preventive vaccinations, have reduced the infant mortality rate and, in addition, have eradicated diseases and prevented hundreds of millions of contagions.
We make this analysis in direct reference to the situation we have in Puerto Rico, the United States, and in some parts of the world with people who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19. More than 4.48 billion vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, which is equivalent to 58 doses for every 100 people.
Let’s look at the top 15 countries with the highest vaccination levels for both doses:
- Malta 79%
- U.A.E. 73%
- Iceland 71%
- Singapore 68%
- Uruguay 67%
- Bahrain 65%
- Chile 65%
- Belgium 64%
- Qatar 64%
- Aruba 63%
- Mongolia 62%
- Bhutan 62%
- Canada 62%
- Denmark 60%
- Israel 60%.
The obligatory question is how the United States and Puerto Rico rank in comparison to these countries.
- The United States is #33 with 50%.
- Puerto Rico would be #5 with 67.2%. However, we were included the US stats.
Although I don’t have all the elements to determine why there are so many people refusing to get vaccinated, I would venture to think the following:
- In the United States, the COVID-19 issue has become politicized, to the point that many Republican states have very low vaccination averages.
- Disinformation is rampant; the internet is full of numbers with the dubious origin and questionable results.
- We have replaced scientific reports, either from the World Health Organization or John Hopkins and Mayo Clinic, with Facebook live or YouTube videos of people with no medical expertise or relevance.
In conclusion, now that the much more contagious Delta variant is sweeping the United States and Puerto Rico, we have noticed an increase in the levels of concern. For example:
- 78% of US citizens are concerned about the new variant Delta coronavirus;
- 52% of the population now thinks that returning to all daily activities is risky; in fact, there has already been a decrease in visits to most restaurants;
- 62% of the population has stopped visiting family and friends; and,
- 57% of the population is wearing masks 100% of the time.
So, if you are one of those people who eats alcapurrias, bacalaítos, morcillas, mondongo, cuajo, cuerito de lechón, drinks pitorro, maví, or eats a raspberry or tamarind piragua, know that the vaccine will do you much less harm.
In the face of these risks, the most adequate, effective, and appropriate solution is to get vaccinated for COVID-19 to preserve your health, family, and life.
Do the right thing protect yourself and your loved ones by vaccinating.