7 consequences and risks of not getting your child routinely vaccinated

Reasons why it is so important to complete all the vaccines on time

Mohammad Ruhul Amin & Sartini Saman
Child with his mother
03 June 2021

In July 2020, the WHO and UNICEF warned of an alarming decline in the number of children receiving life-saving vaccines due to COVID-19 lockdowns and the disruption of essential health services.

Health workers often remind you and your family to bring your child back to Puskesmas or Posyandu to get their immunizations on time according to the recommended schedule. The government of Indonesia is trying hard to ensure that your child realizes theirs full rights to grow up healthy and be free from diseases that vaccines can prevent.

Being a responsible parent or a good caregiver of a child, you should know why it is so important to complete all the vaccines on time? What could be the potential risks for your children, family and country if this does not happen timely?

1. Your children will be more likely to get serious illnesses

Do you know if children who do not receive complete immunization on time will be susceptible to various vaccine-preventable diseases such as hepatitis, tuberculosis, whooping cough, and diphtheria? Furthermore, children are also susceptible to various other health problems; for example, when a child has measles, complications like diarrhoea, pneumonia, blindness, and malnutrition are common.

This article could give you further insights: Direktur Gizi Kemenkes: Campak Erat Kaitannya dengan Kurang Gizi


2. Other family members are also more likely to get seriously ill

Do you know other people around sick and unimmunized children at risk of contracting diseases or vice-versa?

When you get sick, your children, grandchildren, and parents may be at risk, too
Adults are the most common source of pertussis (whooping cough) infection in infants, which can be deadly for babies. When your child gets vaccinated, you are protecting yourself and your family, as well as those in your community who may not be able to be vaccinated.  

Adults can also contract and experience mild symptoms with fatal complications; for example, pregnant women who are infected with the rubella virus are at high risk of giving birth to children with various disorders known as congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). Pregnant women who contract the measles virus are at risk of experiencing a miscarriage.

3. You may contribute to a disease outbreak in the community

Infectious disease cases among a vulnerable group could lead to a broader community outbreak.  This is why the government still vaccinates children against polio. When more children miss their vaccination, diseases that have been in decline for many years could suddenly break out again.


Baby and mother

4. You have to bear the cost of treatment for the disease and its complications

Diseases not only have a direct impact on individuals and their families but also carry a high price tag for society as a whole.  It requires expensive and time-consuming treatment.

For example, diphtheria will require immediate treatment in a hospital that has the capacity to treat this disease and its complications. The patient is placed in an isolation room and requires special drugs. An average measles illness can last up to 15 days, typically with five or six missed work or school days. Adults who get hepatitis lose an average of one month of work. In the case of a baby born with CRS, they will require lifelong treatment and high-cost medical aid and therapy.

5. Decrease in quality of life

Vaccines preventable diseases could lead to lifelong disability,for example, measles could lead to blindness. Paralysis is the most severe symptom associated with polio because it can lead to permanent disability and death.


6. Risk of decreasing life expectancy

Incomplete vaccination contributes to a decrease in life expectancy, while complete vaccination among toddlers influences the increase in life expectancy. Data showed that those children who do not receive complete immunization as a child are more likely to contract various other diseases and therefore experience decreased life expectancy.

 In West Papua, life expectancy increase from 2010 to 2017 with significant contribution from an increasing number of fully immunized children. [1]

Between 1940 and 1998, life expectancy at birth in Brazil increased by around 30 years, mainly due to the reduction of deaths due to vaccine-preventable infectious diseases. The vaccination of children, which reduced not only cases of illness but also the circulation of infectious agents among the population, positively impacted the health of adults and the elderly (collective protection). [2]


7. Travel restrictions and school enrollment

Several countries require visiting foreigners to be completely immunized. Without immunization, children can lose the opportunity to pursue education in these countries

More and more schools listed ‘complete immunization status’ as one of the admission criteria to ensure all children and school residents are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases and students can fully enjoy their rights to learn at school.

UNICEF acknowledges Yusneri, SKM, MM from Ministry of Health Republic of Indonesia for the valuable contributions to this article

[1] https://sehatnegeriku.kemkes.go.id/baca/rilis-media/20180827/5827672/papua-barat-berhasil-tingkatkan-angka-harapan-hidup/

[2] http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1809-98232017000600741