By PATRICK JARAMOGI
KAMPALA-SHIFTMEDIA- The discussion of whether vaccination only protects against hospitalization and not infection needs further dissecting.
There was a rare twist of verbal exchange between Health Minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng and Dr. Abed Bwanika as the top officials of health appeared before Parliamentary Committee Task Force on Covid 19.
Bwanika is a Veterinarian and Member of Parliament for Kimanya Kabonera in Masaka City.
“Vaccination only protects against severe disease and hospitalization. Covid will exist thereafter,” Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng told parliament.
To this, Dr. Abed Bwanika retorted: “Are you saying vaccination only protects against hospitalization, Only? Only? That is not true. Vaccination protects against sever hospitalization that is one, and to a certain extent for the infection.”
“That is scientific,” said Dr. Aceng. “Dr. Bwanika is a Vet”, she added.
“No no, this science is not invented by you (Aceng), you cannot say something wrong to the country,” responded Dr. Bwanika.
According to analysts, this is what happens when people blindly follow what the World Health Organisation (WHO) is saying without putting in mind the basic high school biology teachings about vaccinations.
What does science say regarding vaccination?
According to Immunology.org vaccination is the safest way to protect against an infectious disease. Once you are vaccinated, you have the ability to fight off disease if they come into contact with it. The person will have a level of protection, or immunity against the disease.
What is vaccination?
Vaccination is the safest way to protect your child and oneself against an infectious disease. Once you have been vaccinated, you have the ability to fight off the disease if you come into contact with it. You will have a level of protection, or immunity, against the disease.
How does vaccination work?
The immune system is a network of cells, tissues and organs that work together to help fight off infection from harmful bacteria or viruses. When a disease-causing agent, such as virus or bacteria, invades your body, your immune system recognises it as harmful and will trigger a response to destroy it.
One of the ways your immune system fights off infection is by creating large proteins known as antibodies. These antibodies act as scouts, hunting down the infectious agent, and marking it for destruction by the immune system. Each antibody is specific to the bacteria or virus that it has detected and will trigger a specific immune response. These specific antibodies will remain in the immune system after the infection has gone. This means that if the same disease is encountered again, your immune system has a ‘memory’ of the disease and is ready to quickly destroy it before you get sick and any symptoms can develop.
Sometimes, however, the immune system doesn’t always win this initial battle against the harmful bacteria or virus and you can become very ill or – in extreme cases – die.
Vaccination is the safest and most common way to gain immunity against a bacteria or virus that your body has yet to encounter. Vaccines contain a harmless form of the bacteria or virus that causes the disease you are being immunised against. The bacteria or virus will be killed, greatly weakened, or broken down into small parts before use in the vaccine so that they can trigger an immune response without making you sick. Your immune system will still attack the harmless form of bacteria or virus from the vaccine and will produce antibodies to fight it off. The immune system then keeps a memory of the disease, so if a vaccinated person encounters the disease years later, their immune system is ready to fight it off and prevent an infection from developing.
How effective is vaccination?
Vaccination is extremely effective with most childhood vaccines effective in 85% to 95% of children who receive them.1 It is considered one of our greatest global health achievements and is estimated to save 2–3 million lives a year.
Thanks to vaccines, life-threatening diseases that used to be common in young children such as diphtheria, whooping cough and polio, are now relatively rare. Looking at the history of vaccine-preventable disease, there is a huge drop in the number of cases of a disease following the introduction of a vaccine against it. If smallpox had not been eradicated, it would cause 5 million deaths worldwide a year. Through vaccination, some diseases have even been eradicated completely, for example smallpox.
Why is it important to get vaccinated?
All of the diseases that we vaccinate against exist in the world today. Therefore, if you are not vaccinated, there is still a risk that you could get the disease and become very sick. We know that decreases in vaccination uptake can result in outbreaks of diseases such as measles. Regular vaccination is needed to keep us healthy, prevent outbreaks from occurring and to eventually eradicate these diseases altogether. Infectious diseases are easily passed from person to person and entire communities can rapidly become infected. If a high enough proportion of a community is protected by vaccination, it makes it difficult for the disease to spread because the number of people who can be infected is so small.
This type of protection is known as ‘herd immunity’ and is particularly crucial for some individuals who are unable to receive some vaccines. This may include those that are too young, undergoing certain medical treatment (such as for cancer) or have a health condition that impairs the function of their immune system (such as HIV).
How do I know vaccines are safe?
Before a vaccine can be given to the population it must go through rigorous testing. Like all medicines, vaccines go through many clinical trials, where they are administered and monitored in groups of volunteers. After all these explanations, that Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng referred to as science, and Dr. Abed Bwanika saying the contrary, you can now tell who of the two was right.
What are vaccines made of?
Each vaccine will be made up of slightly different ingredients depending on the disease it is targeting. The active ingredient in a vaccine is a very small amount of the killed, greatly weakened or broken-down parts of the bacteria or virus you are vaccinating against. Vaccines also contain small amounts of preservatives and stabilizers, such as sorbitol and citric acid. These can already be found in the body or in food – usually in much larger quantities than the amount used in a vaccine. However, the most abundant ingredient in a vaccine is water.
Some vaccines also contain aluminium – usually in the form of aluminium hydroxide. Aluminium is found naturally in nearly all food and drinking water and is used in vaccines to strengthen and prolong the immune response they generate.
What is the situation currently?
So far over 3billion doses have been administered globally, but unfortunately, 80% of this has been administered in only about 10 countries, with only 1% done in Africa.
Out of the 1 billion people only 15m have been vaccinated in the entire African continent. This sounds rather pathetic given the scale of spread of the pandemic in recent weeks.
The United Kingdom has so far vaccinated 48% of its population.
Dr. Alfred Driwale, the Program Manager UNEPI says the task ahead for Uganda is still enormous. “So far just about 1.1 million doses have been given in Uganda. 861, 000 was given as the first dose, while 129,000 given as second doses. This represents just 0.34% out of the 0.78% for Africa,” said Driwale.
According Driwale, these figures are very low. “If we are to target 5 million, we have just made 18% of this target, we still have a very long way to go,” the Assistant Commissioner said during the UBC DOCTALK Show.
Dr. Veronica Atuhebwe a vaccinologist said it is only vaccines that will save Uganda from the pandemic.
Uganda currently has so far registered 89,080 covid 19 cases with 64,096 recoveries and 2,249 deaths.