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Summer 2020 - Vaccines

The Critical Need for Vaccines and Higher Vaccine-Compliance Rates

Once again, there is a critical and urgent need for a vaccine to protect people worldwide against an emerging infectious disease.

ONCE AGAIN, there is a critical and urgent need for a vaccine to protect people worldwide against an emerging infectious disease. The current COVID-19 pandemic, for which there is no known human immunity and no vaccine to protect against it, follows many others that have swept through human populations resulting in millions of deaths, including the bubonic plague (Black Death) in the 1300s, smallpox in the 1600s, cholera in the 1800s and several influenza (flu) pandemics, the deadliest of which was the Spanish flu in the 1900s. More recently, the world has been stricken by the SARS pandemic in 2003 and other serious illnesses of international concern such as Zika virus in 2015-16 and Ebola virus in 2014-16 (see “In the Shadow of COVID-19, Will Other Vaccine Development Programs Be Left Behind?” [p.32]). All these viruses, with the exception of Ebola, now have licensed vaccines to prevent infection, albeit influenza vaccines are not effective against all strains. But prior to vaccines, the biggest threat from these viruses was the death toll that ensued due to the lengthy time it takes to produce a vaccine — from months to years.

The triumph of vaccines is evidenced by their success rate in eradicating diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus, polio and measles, among others — due to vaccines given primarily during childhood to provide protection for a lifetime. But, herd immunity is dependent upon most people getting vaccinated. Unfortunately, while compliance with vaccination recommendations is rising in the U.S., it is still too low among all age groups. How, then, can Americans be persuaded to adhere to the recommended vaccine schedule? In our article “Trends in U.S. Vaccine Compliance” (p.20), we highlight the influential role medical providers can play in guiding parents’ decisions to vaccinate their children, as well as convincing adults to get their flu shots. These illnesses, after all, can only be prevented by healthcare workers’ participation in helping to raise vaccination rates.

Yet, despite rising rates of vaccination, the World Health Organization cites the anti-vaccination movement as “one of the 10 greatest risks to global health.” As we explain in our article “Counteracting the Anti-Vaccine Movement” (p.24), anti-vaxxers are mainly parents and mostly mothers who have bought into misinformation spreading across social media, as well as by others who benefit financially from it. The good news is laws have been enacted in all 50 states that aim to overcome exemptions to vaccination. And, physicians have shown how they can be more effective in changing parents’ attitudes about vaccination through open and honest communication and online tools that demonstrate vaccines’ benefits over their potential risks. Looking ahead, their efforts will be especially important when a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available as there is already widespread resistance urged by members of the anti-vaxx movement.

As always, we hope you enjoy this issue of BioSupply Trends Quarterly, and find it both relevant and helpful to your practice.

Helping Healthcare Care,

Patrick M. Schmidt


Patrick M. Schmidt
Patrick M. Schmidt is the publisher of BioSupply Trends Quarterly magazine.