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Education needed on health vaccinations

By Liu Zhihua ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-04-16 07:07:55

While vaccines are widely used, more efforts are needed to raise public awareness of vaccines and their benefits, experts say.

Zhang Yiming, a 38-year-old film director, shared his family's tragedy on a recent talk show, hosted by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and international consulting company Global Health Strategies.

Zhang's younger brother was born in 1984, shortly after floods hit their hometown in Xuzhou, Jiangsu province. The boy was paralyzed after suffering severe fevers.

Zhang's father believed that the local "witch doctor" could help the young boy walk again.

"Later we discovered he had contracted polio. But we had little medical knowledge at that time," Zhang said.

Polio is infectious and can cause paralysis in young children. Vaccination is an effective and safe method to prevent the disease, medical experts say. But Zhang's family did not know this in the 1980s.

"Vaccines make a safer world for both children and others," says Fabio Scano, head of disease control at World Health Organization's China office, noting that the smallpox vaccine has eradicated that contagious disease, caused by the variola virus, which had a fatality rate of 30 to 35 percent.

"It is important that each child in every corner of the world has access to this simple, effective and safe way of disease prevention," he says.

Yet there are many barriers to achieving that goal.

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