Added value

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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”.

Hib vaccine

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 

Pneumococcal vaccine

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.

Rotavirus vaccine

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  

1 Adegbola RA, Secka O, Lahai G, Lloyd-Evans N, Njie A, Usen S, et al. Elimination of Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) disease from The Gambia after the introduction of routine immunisation with a Hib conjugate vaccine: a prospective study. The Lancet. 2005 Jul;366:144-50.

2 Whitney CG, Farley MM, Hadler J, Harrison LH, Bennett NM, Lynfield R, et al. Decline in invasive pneumococcal disease after the introduction of protein-polysaccharide conjugate vaccine. N Engl J Med. 2003 May;348(18):1737-46.

3 Sahakyan G, Grigoryan S, Wasley A, Mosina L, Sargsyan S et al. Impact and effectiveness of monovalent rotavirus vaccine in Armenian children. Clinical Infectious Diseases. 2016 May. 62(S2): 147-54.

4 Gheorgita S, Birca L, Donos A, Wasley A, Birca I et al. Impact of Rotavirus introduction and vaccine effectiveness in the Republic of Moldova. Clinical Infectious Diseases. 2016 May. 62(S2): 140-6.

5 Chang HG, Smith PF, Tserenpuntsag B, Markey K, Parashar U, Morse DL. Reduction in hospitalizations for diarrhea and rotavirus infections in New York state following introduction of rotavirus vaccine. Vaccine. 2010 Jan;28(3):754-8

6 Neill, J (Chair). Tackling drug-resistant infections globally: final report and recommendations. The review on antimicrobial resistance. 2016 May.

7 Hampton LM, Farley MM, Schaffner W, Thomas A, Reingold A et al. Prevention of antibiotic non susceptible Streptococcus pneumoniae with conjugate vaccines. Journal of Infectious Diseases. 2012 Feb;203(3):401-11.

8 Laxminarayan R, Matsoso P, Pant S, Brower C, Rottingen J.A. et al. Access to effective antimicrobials: a worldwide challenge. The Lancet. 2016 Jun;387(10036):168-75

10 million

In September 2014, Nepal became the first country to introduce inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) with Gavi support. By the end of 2015, close to 40 countries had introduced the vaccine with our support, collectively immunising 10 million children.


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