National Immunization Awareness Month, sponsored every August by the National Public Health Information Coalition in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control, aims to raise awareness about the importance of vaccination for people of all ages. However, to biopharmaceutical researchers, the day also represents something more: A moment to recognize the immense benefits provided by vaccines in the U.S. and around the world.
Vaccines, second only to clean drinking water in terms of public health benefit, are helping to prevent the spread of many infectious diseases and, in many parts of the globe, eliminating some of the most devastating conditions. Examples of vaccine successes are numerous and significant:
- Smallpox, at one point one of the deadliest diseases in existence, has been eradicated around the world as a result of vaccination.
- Globally, more than 7.1 million lives have been saved since 2000 as a result of the measles vaccine.
- In the United States, 16 diseases are now preventable as a result of childhood vaccines, resulting in an estimated $1.4 trillion in societal costs saved.
- The recent introduction of the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine has changed the trajectory of cervical cancer, by preventing infection of the HPV strains most likely to cause cancers.