5 lives are saved by vaccines worldwide every minute

5 lives are saved by vaccines worldwide every minute

Don’t let COVID-19 keep you from protecting yourself and your family.2a+b, 5a

Johannesburg, 28 July20: With COVID-19 in the global spotlight, the importance of vaccination has never been greater.2a Immunisation against vaccine-preventable diseases is essential to protect both children and adults2c, 5a, and providing vaccination services is one of the most effective, affordable tools to save people’s lives.2c

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), immunisation services in the COVID-19 pandemic must continue.3a Failure to do so may result in a resurgence of preventable diseases such as measles and polio.3a New disease outbreaks could overwhelm health systems already battling the impacts of COVID-19.3b

As COVID-19 continues to spread, people are urged not to leave children vulnerable to disease and let the pandemic put their lives further at risk.2d Immunisation is an essential service, even during this time, and is free in all public health facilities in South Africa.2d Adults also need immunisations to help prevent getting and spreading serious diseases that could result in poor health, missed work, medical bills, and not being able to care for family.5a

“Although there is no vaccine for COVID-19 yet, there are effective vaccines available for other diseases,” says Dr Nasiha Soofie, Medical Head at Sanofi Pasteur Vaccines. “Vaccination is the only way to protect people and communities against diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, polio, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, hepatitis B, and certain types of pneumonia and diarrhoea that can be fatal.”

“Immunisation prevents unnecessary loss of life and protects communities and healthcare systems that are already battling the effects of COVID-19,” says Dr Soofie. “People of all ages need vaccinations to stay healthy. It is important to prevent vaccination delays as these missed visits could impact your child’s health, or your own. Vaccines provide important protection against infections and diseases and protect people of all ages from many serious illnesses. Our public and private health facilities have guidelines in place to care for patients in a safe manner without exposing them to the risk of COVID-19 infection.”

Vaccines greatly reduce the risk of infection by working with the body’s natural defences to develop immunity to disease.4a It is important to remember that in order to be effective, some vaccines may require more than one dose for babies, teens and even adults.4b Missed visits could impact a person’s health, which is why it is necessary to keep to vaccination schedules that are supplied by your doctor or clinic.4b

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has declared immunisation an essential health service because it is critical for preventing life-threatening infectious diseases.6a During the lockdown period, immunisation visits should continue uninterrupted.6b Contact between individuals should be minimized by measures including scheduled appointments, social distancing, hand hygiene and cloth masks.6b

“Vaccines can prevent death and suffering,” says Dr Soofie. “They are also cost-effective and reduce time off work and lost productivity costs caused by illness. By getting vaccinated we not only help protect ourselves but also those around us by making it more difficult for an infectious disease to spread. This is known as ‘herd immunity’ and is yet another example of the unique public health benefits of vaccination.”

Few measures in public health can compare with the impact of vaccines.7a Vaccinations have reduced disease, disability, and death from a variety of infectious diseases.7a The only human disease ever eradicated, smallpox, was eradicated using a vaccine, and a second, polio, is near eradication, also using vaccines.7b  Vaccines not only provide individual protection for people who are vaccinated, they can also provide community protection by reducing the spread of disease within a population.7c

It’s often said that vaccines save lives, but this is not strictly true; it is vaccination that saves lives.7d Thus, it is imperative that we all work together to assure that a high level of coverage is obtained among populations for whom vaccines are recommended.7d In some sense, vaccines have become victims of their own success.7d Diseases that once induced fear and sparked desire for vaccines are now rare, and there is a false and dangerous sense of complacency among the public.7d

It is incumbent upon all of us to stress to our friends and colleagues the importance of vaccination both for the individual vaccinated as well as for the communities in which the individuals live.7e

Choose health for yourself and your community!


  1. Rappuoli R, Pizza M, Del Giudice G, De Gregorio E. Vaccines, new opportunities for a new society. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014;111(34):12288-12293. doi:10.1073/pnas.1402981111
  2. United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) South Africa. Immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases is essential to protect children. [2 Jul 2020]. Available from: www.unicef.org/southafrica/stories/immunization-against-vaccine-preventable-diseases-essential-protect-children
  3. World Health Organization (WHO). Protecting lifesaving immunization services during COVID-19: New guidance from WHO. [2 Jul 2020]. Available from: www.who.int/immunization/news_guidance_immunization_services_during_COVID-19/en/
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Understanding how vaccines work. [2 Jul 2020]. Available from: www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/conversations/downloads/vacsafe-understand-color-office.pdf
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Vaccine Information for Adults. [2 Jul 2020]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults/rec-vac/index.html
  6. National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD). [26 May 2020] Routine immunisation services to continue during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  7. Simply put: Vaccination saves lives. Walter A. Orenstein, Rafi Ahmed. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Apr 2017, 114 (16) 4031-4033; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1704507114.

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