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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:

Preventing disease in children through immunisation is a foundation of economic growth and prosperity for individuals families communities and countries. That is why GAVI's mission is to save and protect people's health.

Mary Robinson, former Chair of the GAVI Alliance Board

  • 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 wager 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

Evidence is growing that many vaccines also 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 carriage of the bacteria by children was significantly reduced.1

Pneumococcal vaccine

Within a year of the introduction of pneumococcal vaccines in the United States, disease rates fell sharply in both vaccinated children and non-vaccinated adults.2 The reduced colonisation in the nose in vaccinated children reduces the transmission of pneumococcal bacterial to (non-vaccinated) adults and elderly people, reducing disease in these groups. Four years after the introduction of pneumococcal vaccines in the US, there was an estimated drop of around 70% in invasive pneumococcal disease in non-vaccinated children - nearly the same as the average direct effect of the vaccine in that age group.

Rotavirus vaccine

Following the 2006 start of infant rotavirus vaccination in the US, there was 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 US$ 10 million.3


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. Lancet. 2005 Jul 9-15; 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 1; 348(18):1737-46.

3 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 8; 28(3):754-8.

5 -> 12

2001: 5 vaccine suppliers to GAVI (1 in an emerging market) | mid-2013: 12 vaccine suppliers to GAVI (over half now based in Africa, Asia, Latin America)

UNICEF Supply Division, 2012

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