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'.
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
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.
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