Vaccines ensure healthy people stay healthy, removing a major obstacle to development
Immunological benefits of vaccination “spill over” to non-vaccinated populations
Reduction of illness and long-term disability
In addition to their direct impact on mortality rates, vaccines contribute significantly to the reduction of illness and long-term disability in children and adults. This brings added value by reducing the burden of disease on families, health systems and societies:
Universal vaccination will play a fundamental role in developing a healthy population and in ensuring that we develop our economies.
President Jakaya Kikwete, Global Ambassador for Immunisation
- Savings on medical expenditures, such as hospital treatment, health workers and ambulance costs, frees up health resources to implement immunisation programmes and improve general health care.
- Increasing parents' productive time: childhood infectious diseases place stress on families by forcing one of the major wage earners – usually the mother or grandmother – to stay with a sick child in hospital.
- Productivity gains: vaccination improves a child's cognitive skills, physical strength and performance at school. Each has positive consequences for the individual's long-term productivity.
- Household benefits: long-term, families struggle to cope with caring for children left disabled by infectious diseases. In Bangladesh, for example, few schools specialise in the care of disabled children and therefore many mothers of disabled children are unable to work, imposing a considerable strain on family finances.
Added immunological value
Many vaccines bring added immunological value by blocking the spread of infection even to those who are not vaccinated by providing what is termed “herd immunity”.
In the Gambia, vaccination with Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccines led to substantial indirect effects on the non-vaccinated population, including adults, probably because fewer children carried the bacteria.1
Within a year of the introduction of pneumococcal vaccines in the United States of America (USA), disease rates fell sharply in both vaccinated children and non-vaccinated adults.2 The reduced colonisation in the nose in vaccinated children lowers the transmission of pneumococcal bacterial to (non-vaccinated) adults and elderly people, preventing disease in these groups.
Four years after the introduction of pneumococcal vaccines in the USA, there was an estimated drop of around 70% in invasive pneumococcal disease in non-vaccinated children – nearly the same as among vaccinated children in the same age group.
In 2016, two studies were carried out in Armenia and Moldova after the introduction of rotavirus vaccination in both countries’ routine immunisation programmes. Both studies found decreases in incidence of rotavirus among age groups that were not vaccinated, suggesting herd immunity. 3,4
Following the 2006 start of infant rotavirus vaccination in the US, there was a reduction of rotavirus hospitalisations and associated health care costs among both vaccinated and non-vaccinated individuals in New York. State-wide hospital costs for rotavirus hospitalisations in children aged under two were reduced by US$ 10 million.5
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the ability of a microorganism, such as a bacterium or virus, to evolve and stop treatments such as antibiotics and antivirals from fighting it. AMR is rapidly becoming one of the major challenges in public health. By 2050, it could be taking an estimated 10 million lives every year, at a total global cost of US$ 100 trillion.6
Immunisation has a major role to play in the fight against AMR. A study in the USA showed that pneumococcal vaccination led to a significant decrease in antibiotic-resistant pneumococcal infections.7 If universally introduced in low- and lower-middle-income countries, pneumococcal vaccine could save up to 11.4 million days of antibiotic use, a 47% reduction. Further reductions could also be achieved with higher coverage of Haemophilus influenzae type B vaccine.8