First and foremost, the diphtheria vaccination given in childhood does not last a lifetime! It needs to be updated every 10 years, it is effective, safe, and absolutely free in state clinics!
Now let’s understand why this is important. You may have heard about confirmed outbreaks of diphtheria in Kiev this fall.
There is a chance that your fellow passenger’s cough in public transport threatens more than a common cold. Don’t panic, protecting yourself is very simple — get vaccinated. But if you don’t get vaccinated and get sick — there is a high risk of serious complications.
Diphtheria is an incredibly contagious bacteria, its transmission routes are:
airborne dropletcontact (through objects)foodborne
When the diphtheria bacillus gets on the mucous membranes of the nose and throat, it causes symptoms initially similar to a common sore throat or cold. The throat hurts and turns red, weakness appears.
The danger of diphtheria lies in the toxin it releases. This substance blocks protein formation in human cells, leading to their death. Mucous cells begin to die en masse. A characteristic diphtheria film appears in the throat, which starts to bleed when detached. The throat swells severely, making it difficult to breathe.
The infection goes down and affects the trachea — the «tube» in the neck that connects the nasopharynx and lungs. If the diphtheria film detaches there — it can block breathing and the person will suffocate. But this was just a warm-up.
The toxin is absorbed into the blood, causes severe poisoning, affects the nervous system, kidneys and most importantly — the heart. Diphtheritic myocarditis begins — inflammation of the heart muscle. In short — this can lead to disability or even death. Paralysis occurs due to damage to the nervous system.
Antibiotics are ineffective against diphtheria infection. The patient can only be helped by the introduction of a special antitoxin, which is often lacking in Ukraine. Overall, treatment is aimed at supporting the patient’s life, but even in the best (!) clinics in the world, mortality reaches 10%.
Imagine the situation. A person has contracted diphtheria, the disease has just begun and there are no threatening symptoms yet.
With the inherent Ukrainian indifference, the person thinks it’s just a cold. Decides to «walk off the illness» and continues to go to work, ride public transport, meet with friends. How many people can get infected if many of us have «outdated virus databases»? Decide for yourself.
Unfortunately, vaccination in general has become a very controversial topic in Ukraine. Our politicians love to meddle in health issues and shout about corruption schemes on «killer vaccinations» in the fight against competitors.
There are many myths about vaccines, but what is true and where is the lie? Trust science, not populism. An overview of official information from WHO and MOH can be read here.