Vaccines save lives
Vaccines save lives – this was the key message of the Mayor of Cetinje Aleksandar Kašćelan and UNICEF Montenegro Representative Juan Santander at the public discussion about vaccines in Cetinje
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CETINJE, 7 JULY 2021 – Vaccines save lives – this was the key message of the Mayor of Cetinje Aleksandar Kašćelan and UNICEF Montenegro Representative Juan Santander at the public discussion about vaccines organized today for Cetinje’s citizens with health experts dr Senad Begić, UNICEF Senior Health Consultant and dr Biljana Ivelja, pediatrician from Cetinje Health Centre.
According to Kašćelan, coronavirus has showed us what the world with a pandemic looks like without a vaccine: there are diseases, death, social isolation and a closed economy. There are crowded hospitals with patients waiting for oxygen and exhausted doctors faced with a difficult choice of whom to provide with oxygen first. There is pain and sorrow because of the people who lost the battle against COVID-19.
I am proud that Cetinje has one of the highest number of people immunized against coronavirus in Montenegro. However, this is not enough. I am concerned about the decreased number of immunized children, as this situation opens up a possibility for new epidemies to develop.
Santander reminded that according to the recent Ipsos research conducted with support from UNICEF and UK Embassy, 1 in 3 citizens in Montenegro believe in some conspiracy theory or disinformation about coronavirus, while 1 in 5 doubt the vaccines. What they all have in common is the fact that they have been exposed to a great number of inaccurate information. For this reason, public debates with health experts like the one in Cetinje today are needed to provide citizens with opportunities to share their concerns, discuss any information that they have come across and analyse its accuracy with the support of the health experts.
For us in UNICEF, the situation is clear: vaccines save lives. By choosing not to vaccinate, parents not only put their children at risk, but also the entire community, particularly those who cannot yet be vaccinated, such as children with some health issues. Therefore, we consider childhood immunization to be a top national priority for Montenegro.
Dr Begić reminded about many diseases that we have forgotten about thanks to vaccines. Smallpox, which killed 300 million people during the 20th century alone, was successfully eradicated in 1979 thanks to the introduction of a safe and effective vaccine. Polio – a dangerous disease that has killed millions and paralysed or disabled millions – is now, thanks to vaccines, a dangerous endemic disease in just two countries – Pakistan and Afghanistan. Mother and newborn tetanus, which is fatal to newborns, has, thanks to immunization, been almost completely eliminated worldwide, remaining in only 12 countries.
The great success of the vaccinations has made many parents unaware of the frightening consequences of infectious diseases as, thankful to vaccines, for generations we did not have the opportunity to feel infectious diseases “on our own skin”. As a result, many of us have lost the sense of how important immunizations really are. One thing is for sure – vaccine coverages will increase following an epidemic because the memory of the disease and its consequences will be fresh and alive. Unfortunately, it might be too late for some children which today, at a time when there are effective vaccines as a way of prevention is a completely unacceptable and extremely uncivilized event.
Dr Ivelja spoke about the importance of following regular health check-ups and immunization schedule for children in the first years.
I invite all parents to bring their children regularly to health check-ups since birth to ensure their adequate growth and development. I also invite them to feel free to come and talk to us, health experts, about any questions or doubts they might have in relation to vaccines. I thank all parents for coming up to Cetinje health centre to immunize their children safely every day during the pandemic. We are available to all Cetinje citizens for any support at the phone number 231 464.
She has parents vaccinating their children every day and one of them is Svetlana Djurovic Martinovic, a mother of a baby boy.
I have decided to vaccinate my baby because the danger to his life is much greater if he gets some of the diseases that vaccines protect him from than if he gets immunized .
To increase routine childhood immunization rates in Montenegro and prevent that children suffer from serious diseases that can be avoided thanks to vaccines, UNICEF, together with the EU Delegation, supports national and local authorities, health institutions and health experts to conduct a national campaign and join efforts with local communities, media, civil sector and academia.