Vaccination protects from infectious disease and saves lives
Vaccines: A success story…
Vaccination is an essential tool in our fight against infectious diseases. Vaccines have dramatically reduced the threat of diseases that were once widespread and often fatal1, and are one of the greatest medical achievements in history, saving 2-3 million lives globally every year2.
Today, more people benefit from safe and effective vaccines than ever before, and the list of diseases that vaccines can help to prevent continues to grow.
Vaccines can also help reduce healthcare costs to individuals and the broader healthcare system by reducing the incidence of vaccine-preventable illness3.
Vaccines are a victim of their own success. We see an increase of vaccine-preventable diseases in Europe, leading to recurrence of diseases.
The reasons for this are manifold. The absence of severe disease, such as small pox or polio, is leading to the mis-perception that vaccination is no longer needed.
The convenience factor plays a role, as does the lack of confidence in the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. Widespread misinformation about vaccine safety certainly is a contributing factor, too, both online and offline. Despite high-quality standards that apply to vaccine production, robust clinical trials and strict pharmacovigilance, vaccine safety and effectiveness are being challenged.
In addition, vaccines are still under-utilised today:
There is also room for improving the sustainability of the supply chain of vaccines. Short-term demand often cannot be responded to in a timely manner due to a lack of dialogue between public health authorities and manufacturers, and very complex and lengthy production processes.
Important political will
Pfizer welcomes the Council Recommendation on ‘Strengthened cooperation against vaccine-preventable diseases’7 adopted in December 2018; the Joint Action on Vaccination;8 as well as the European Parliament Resolution on ‘Vaccine hesitancy and drop in vaccination rates in Europe’9, proposing important measures to improve vaccination coverage throughout the EU.
It is of utmost importance to maintain this political momentum during the next legislature and work towards swift implementation of the proposals put forward. It is Pfizer’s vision to protect lives with our broad portfolio of innovative vaccines that fight serious diseases in Europe and worldwide, and meet the needs of the global community we serve.
Key Policy Points
During the 2019-2024 legislature, we call on the EU and its Member States to:
- Integrate life-course vaccination into Member States’ health policies;10
- Offer access to vaccination services in healthcare (e.g. pharmacies) and non-healthcare settings (e.g. schools) to address the convenience factor of vaccination hesitancy;
- Strengthen education and training on vaccine-preventable diseases, vaccinology, and immunisation in medical curricula for healthcare providers;
- Increase resources for preventive medicine, including vaccines as an essential tool to control serious infectious diseases;
- Secure sustainable investment in new vaccine technologies as potential tools to address unmet medical needs, such as antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). 2020 Topics & Objectives; Immunization and Infectious Diseases.
2 World Health Organisation, “10 Facts on Immunisation”, 2018.
3 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Ibid.
4 O. Ethgen, M. Cornier, E. Chriv et.al., “The cost of vaccination throughout life: A western European overview”, Human vaccines & immunotherapeutics Vol 12(8): 2029-37, 2016.
5 ECDC, “Measles continues to circulate in the EU/EEA, with new outbreaks reported”, July 2018.
6 O. Ethgen, V. Remy; K. Wargo, “Vaccination budget in Europe: an update”, Human vaccines & immunotherapeutics - Vol 14(12), 2911-2915, 2018.
7 Council of the European Union, “Council Recommendation of 7 December 2018 on strengthened cooperation against vaccine-preventable diseases” (2018/C 466/01).
8 European Union Joint Action on Vaccination.
9 European Parliament resolution of 19 April 2018 on vaccine hesitancy and the drop in vaccination rates in Europe (2017/2951(RSP)).
10 World Health Organisation, “The Case for Investing in Public Health”, 2014. There is evidence that this approach can have an important impact on morbidity, mortality and quality of life. The WHO Regional Office for Europe states that five times the cost of treating diseases would be saved if European countries instituted adult vaccination programmes.