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World Immunization Week: Lola on benefits of vaccination
On the eve of the World Immunization Week, which is held annually from April 24 to 30, we discussed vaccination with Lola Yuldasheva, singer, actress and National Champion of the Rights of the Child of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Uzbekistan.
- Why did you decide to become an advocate for vaccination?
When my daughter was born, I followed the vaccination calendar that my doctor recommended with full trust. But when my son arrived, I questioned this schedule. I had heard rumors about the shots – several of my friends were forgoing them, and there were scary rumors that suggested a link between vaccines and autism. I was confused and overwhelmed.
I know I was not alone in this – which is why I talked to experts to get the correct information on this controversial subject. I learned that even being careful about who comes in contact with your child and the places he goes to are no guarantee that he'll stay healthy. And if vaccination affects your child with minor symptoms, it is really worth it.
Spreading awareness about autism is one of issues I am very attached to. You might have seen some messages in social media with the tagline “It’s OK to be different”. I participated in this campaign last year with my own children and friends – actors and singers. Of all the theories on autism, the vaccine link has been studied the most, and it has been proven to be untrue based on a strong scientific evidence.
After getting all this information, I went back to adhering to the vaccination calendar for my son, and also decided to raise awareness of other parents on the importance of vaccination.
- You are also an advocate for breastfeeding. One of the advantages of breastfeeding is that it gives your child immunity. Do you really need to vaccinate your child, if you have breastfed?
Yes, I am a strong advocate for breastfeeding. Despite my busy schedule, I did my best to follow the practice with my children. It is important that the baby is exclusively breastfed until he turns 6 months old, and then to continue breastfeeding with proper complementary feeding until the baby is 2 years old.
To answer your question, we know that breastfeeding provides immunity to your child. But the child gets antibodies only for diseases that the mother is immune to, and these antibodies are active just until your baby is 3 to 6 months old. In fact, this is why doctors recommend several vaccines during the baby's first few months: so that your child is well protected for a longer period of time.
- What would be your advice to parents who still hesitate to vaccinate their children as per the schedule?
One of the things I always make sure is that my children are fully vaccinated according to the National Immunization Calendar.
All parents are concerned about their children. It is all right to have questions and doubts. I would recommend that to get rid of your doubts ask your doctor and find out about all ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of the vaccination. Speak to your doctor to check what vaccines your child needs.
Don’t let the rumors around vaccination put your child at risk. Vaccines are safe and they work. It is your duty as a parent to provide this protection to your child. I am personally convinced that vaccination offers every child the chance for a healthy life from the start.