07.03.14 | By Robert Zirkelbach
Vaccines are a critical medical advancement that has saved countless lives. Through the hard work and dedication of researchers around the world, vaccines have eradicated devastating diseases including smallpox, polio, rubella and the measles, and at least 90 percent eradicated 10 additional infectious diseases. Today, vaccines prevent hepatitis A and B, pneumonia and some cancers and have contributed to the global lifespan increase of six years between 1990 and 2012.
It is no secret that prevention saves, but the value of vaccinations is not often accurately represented, which was evident in a recent New York Times article. Not only do vaccinations save lives, but vaccinating babies born each year, for example, also saves the health care system $43 billion in direct and indirect costs.
New vaccines and those currently in the pipeline will continue to provide savings. The HPV vaccine has already reduced the disease’s prevalence by 56 percent for teenage girls that completed the regimen within four years of the treatment’s approval, and the more than 270 vaccines in the pipeline for HIV, malaria and other life-threatening diseases mean the future is bright.
Every year, 2.6 million children under the age of five die from vaccine-preventable diseases. Life is precious and priceless. It is essential that discussions around innovative medicines, like vaccines, not solely focus on the cost, but also consider the value they provide to both patients and society.