Vaccines – The educational and preventive role

By Sara CERDAS, MEP (S&D Group), Member of the ENVI Committee

Worldwide, people are living longer. In fact, in the last 100 years, human life expectancy increased by 30 years.

There are a multitude of factors that account for this increase in human’s life expectancy, but one cannot deny the role public health measures had. Access to safe drinking water and water waste management , the discovery of antibiotics and vaccines.

Human beings stopped being exposed to microorganisms that otherwise would be fatal to them through life’s most ingested substance, water. If a person did indeed, through any transmission mode was infected, bacteria could be fought hand in hand with antibiotics, medicines that actively target the harmful microorganisms that would otherwise translate in high death rates by most communicable diseases.

And vaccines, the scientific breakthrough wonder substances, if you had the chance to be vaccinated your immune system will be in contact with a short (or a dead) part of the pathogenic microorganism and consequently, if you got in contact with the real pathogenic microorganism, your own cellular army called immune system would fight them off in a stronger and efficient way.

The combination of these three public health measures did indeed contributed for a massive transformation in human life. We live longer, and healthier.

Our children are born and have the best chances of surviving than ever before in human history. Eighty percent of children worldwide are vaccinated for at least one disease.

However, history took an unthinkable twist. Somehow, in countries were vaccines are easily accessible, adults stopped vaccinating their children.

It is important to understand that in medicine, as in any decision in life, there are risks. However, risks are to be balanced with well-informed access to scientific evidence. If today, most of the world recognizes the harmful effects of climate change, that cannot be said for the benefits of vaccines.

Despite consensus in the medical and scientific community, Europe is facing an ever increase number of outbreaks, for diseases that we can be protected for; they are called vaccine preventable diseases. And it is only with concerted action by the different players, that this untruthful and fake-inspired wave of the anti-vaccination movement can be overcome. It is not through strength; it is not through mandatory laws.

Public Health professionals must be called into action and step up for this emergency; and must be equipped with the best tools we have at our disposal: evidence- based information.

And policy makers must clear up the way and guarantee that all actors commissioned to the task are provided with the best resources. Otherwise, we will fail.

We must not forget that not everyone can have the luxury to be vaccinated; there are people that live in remote areas of the globe that do not have access to the recommended vaccination programs; there are persons all around the globe that, even though they are vaccinated, their cellular army is not properly function; they are immune suppressed and of high risk of being infected.

In high risk of perish from a preventable disease. It is a community effort, and one where everyone plays a role, spreading the most accurate and evidence- based information.

In an era where antimicrobial resistance is earning an emergency status, where climate change is making access to safe water harder, in an era were vaccines are safer than ever and work, action is needed. Today.