Vaccinations are a vital part of the public health movement in both developed and developing countries as a way to protect the population from many life threatening diseases. The first widespread vaccinations started in the early 1800s, following the work of Edward Jenner who created the smallpox vaccination that has protected millions of individuals and has eradicated the disease all together.
The development and introduction of widespread vaccinations has been considered to be one of the top ten public health advances of the 20th century. The administration of vaccinations protects not just those who are vaccinated but the entire population. Every individual who is vaccinated adds to the communal immunity of the population in which they reside. Community immunity, sometimes referred to as herd immunity, is the theory that if a large number of individuals are vaccinated against a disease then the chains of infection can be disrupted during an outbreak. Since the introduction of vaccinations, there has been seven major human diseases that have been brought under control: smallpox, diphtheria, tetanus, yellow fever, whooping cough, polio and measles. In addition, there are currently significant efforts underway to develop vaccines to fight other diseases such as Ebola, HIV and various forms of cancer.
However, vaccinations have never been a stranger to controversy. Even when the first vaccinations were introduced, there were those who fought against them claiming reasons such as sanitary issues, religion, lack of scientific understanding and political concerns. More recently, in 1998, a British physician, Andrew Wakefield, introduced hysteria around the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine. He claimed there was a direct link between the vaccination and the development of autism. In 2010, Dr. Wakefield’s study was retracted with allegations he was paid by a group of lawyers intending to sue vaccine manufacturers. Even though his statement was retracted and his medical license removed, there are many who remain misguided by his false claims.
Though many still have concerns about the effects of vaccinations, the scientific evidence is very clear that vaccinations are a vital way to protect our families and communities. The greatest danger of the spread of these preventable diseases comes from non-immunized individuals in our healthcare community and an increasing awareness that some vaccines are showing signs of waning, or decreasing their effectiveness over time. The recent measles outbreak related to families visiting Disneyland is one of many incidents that could have been avoided with the proper community immunity to the virus. In addition, a recent study indicates targeting specific populations such as healthcare personnel for flu vaccination has a direct impact on the general population’s immunity.
At some point, everyone is part of the healthcare community as a patient, visitor, volunteer, sales representative or healthcare employee. Through the ReptraxTM vendor credentialing system, IntelliCentrics has tracked the immunizations and other vital credentials of the sales representative population for years. This has enabled healthcare facilities to monitor not only the immune status of hundreds of thousands of sales representatives but also to know when and where they were in their facility in case follow-up is needed. IntelliCentrics takes the monitoring of the healthcare community to a new level. With , facilities can engage with every person who enters the facility so the organization’s policies on immunizations and other practices can be applied consistently and universally.
will quickly become a vital tool in the prevention of the spread of illnesses due to exposure at medical facilities. With three confirmed cases of Ebola and one pending confirmation in the United States, the medical community is facing new challenges that the right technology can help to contain.