Vaccination currently saves between 2 and 3 million lives every year.1 Vaccines as public health tools – eradicating smallpox, containing polio to just three endemic countries and greatly reducing many other diseases – have an indisputable track record.
The impact of vaccines goes far beyond saving lives and improving health. Vaccination is in every sense an investment, with wider benefits that accrue across a lifetime.
A strand of recent research has focused on both short- and long-term, direct and indirect benefits of immunisation – classifying them into “narrow” and “broad” categories.2
The narrow benefits of immunisation are limited to preventing healthcare costs and loss of productivity for the patient and the person caring for him or her.
The recent move towards a broader approach to the benefits of vaccination shows that many other aspects of society and the economy are positively affected by immunisation. For instance, by preventing illness, immunisation improves a child's cognitive skills, physical strength and performance at school. In the long term, this leads to increased productivity.
By improving financial security and reducing risk, preventing illness through vaccination may lead to increased investment and improved political and economic stability. Through an effect known as herd immunity, it also helps to protect unvaccinated individuals in the community.2,3,4