Second only to the provision of clean water, vaccinations have the greatest impact on the burden of infectious diseases. Vaccines stimulate the body’s own immune system to facilitate the protection against future encounters with the corresponding infection or disease. Immunization is a proven tool for controlling and eliminating life-threatening infectious diseases and is estimated to prevent up to 3 million deaths each year.
Vaccines due to their rigorous safety checks are far safer than therapeutic medicines, and most “vaccine scares” have be shown to be false; unfortunately, misguided safety concerns have led to a fall in vaccine coverage in some countries, which has in turn lead to a resurgence in some infections (for example pertussis and measles).
Eradication appears an ideal goal for immunization programmes, but to date only smallpox has been eradicated (allowing the discontinuation of routine smallpox vaccines globally). Whilst we may not be able to eradicated certain diseases globally, it is possible to eliminate them locally; this requires a communal drive to ensure all members of our community adhere to their vaccine schedules.