What’s tiny, portable, cost-effective and powerful enough to save lives? A vaccine.
Vaccines are one of the most cost-effective health tools ever invented. In Gavi-supported countries, every US$1 spent on immunisation generates US$54 in broader societal benefits thanks to people living longer and healthier lives.
There’s a lot of misinformation out there about vaccines, so we wanted to make sure you have the facts. Here are a few things you should know about vaccinations.
1. Immunisation saves up to 3 million lives every year.
Vaccines already protect billions of people around the world from infectious diseases — and we’re much further ahead in this fight than people may realise.
“Vaccines help prepare the body to fight off disease-causing germs, such as bacteria and viruses,” writes Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “They are like training courses for the immune system – teaching it to recognise and destroy the invaders before they can do significant harm to the body.” If global vaccination coverage was improved, an additional 1.5 million lives could be saved annually.
2. Vaccines have an incredible track record of success.
There are very few health interventions that have had such a global, life-saving effect. Widespread vaccination efforts from organisations like Gavi have helped eradicate or drastically reduce several infectious diseases.
For example, in 2019 there were only 165 cases of wild poliovirus reported — a disease for which there is no cure and can only be prevented with a vaccine. Comparatively, there were approximately 350,000 cases reported in 1988. This incredible decline of cases is due to global efforts to vaccinate children against polio. By the end of 2018, more than 112 million children were immunised against polio with support from Gavi.
3. Childhood mortality has dropped by more than half around the world.
This reduction in childhood mortality is primarily due to one key health intervention: vaccinations. Child deaths related to non-vaccine preventable diseases have only decreased modestly since 1990. In comparison, the number of child deaths caused by vaccine preventable diseases have declined dramatically — by nearly 65% — between 1990 and 2017.
In 2018 alone, Gavi-supported vaccines immunised 66 million children. More children than ever are protected with immunity against preventable infectious diseases which paves a path forward for children to grow up and become healthy, productive adults.
4. Vaccines defend against antimicrobial resistance.
This is just a really fancy way of saying that immunisation stops people from getting infected with vaccine preventable diseases, therefore reducing or preventing the need for antibiotics. Making better use of existing vaccines and developing new vaccines are two important ways to tackle antibiotic resistance and reduce preventable illness and death.
5. Vaccines are a gateway to primary health care.
Beyond immunisation, there are knock-on effects that occur when parents bring their children in for vaccinations. Getting vaccinated brings families into contact with the healthcare system five or more times in a child’s first year of life. Regular interactions with healthcare professionals provide an opportunity to educate new parents about more than vaccines. For families living in poverty, this can be a crucial opportunity to discuss other crucial health topics, such as non-communicable diseases or malnutrition, or take part in other priority health interventions, like HIV testing for mom and baby. Often, these parents may not have access to these services otherwise.
Here’s a bonus: Vaccines don’t just save lives, they help fight poverty too. By 2030, vaccines will help prevent 24 million people in the world’s poorest countries from slipping into poverty by keeping populations healthy and able to attend school, work and provide for their communities.
Tiny vaccinations pack a mighty punch. That’s why we’re dedicated to making sure everyone, everywhere has access to them. This year, world leaders will have the opportunity to help Gavi keep up their incredible, life-saving and poverty-eradicating work.