Skip directly to content

Vaccines

Infectious diseases, spread through airborne droplets, bodily fluids or other means can infect many people in a relatively short span of time. With global travel becoming more affordable and commonplace, diseases which may once have remained localised now have much wider reach, which can make outbreaks more difficult to contain.

Vaccines play an important role in protecting not just individuals but entire communities against infectious diseases; by preventing individuals from contracting and spreading a disease, epidemics can be averted. Vaccination – especially for those who are at high risk of infection – creates what experts called community or ‘herd’ immunity, reducing the likelihood of an outbreak, thereby protecting not only the vaccinated individual but also those who are not vaccinated.i

Some infectious diseases are known to spread easily, resulting in mandatory or heavily recommended vaccinations for specific groups. For example, invasive meningococcal disease or meningitis is a bacterial infection that is responsible for significant rates of infection among infants and young childrenii. The infection can strike suddenlyiii and progress quicklyiv, affecting the membrane or lining surrounding the brain, spinal cord and bloodstreamv,vi. In addition, it is easily spread in crowded conditionsvii, with high carrier rates among pilgrims fulfilling the Hajjviii, hence it is a mandatory vaccination for those wishing to perform their pilgrimage.

Another common and deadly infectious disease is pneumococcal disease, which is the leading vaccine-preventable cause of death in children under the age of five worldwide.ix

Caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae, it is responsible for potentially fatal bacterial infection of the blood, meningitis or inflammation of the brain or spinal cord membrane, pneumonia and otitis media or ear infection.x Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines help to protect both children and adults against these infections.

References

i. US Department of Health & Human Services. Community Immunity (“Herd Immunity”), https://www.vaccines.gov/basics/protection/

ii. Judelsohn R, Marshall G. The Burden of Infant Meningococcal Disease in the United States. J Ped Infect Dis. 2012; 1(1): 64-73. [Taken from Pfizer patient information leaflet, file name Meningococcal Disease leaflet]

iii. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meningococcal Disease, https://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/index.html

iv. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. MacNeil J, Cohn A. Chapter 8: Meningococcal Disease. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/surv-manual/chpt08-mening.html

v. World Health Organization Media centre: Meningococcal meningitis, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs141/en

vi. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meningococcal Disease, https://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/index.html

vii. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Advising Travelers with Special Needs: Travel to Mass Gatherings http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2016/advising-travelers-with-spec...

viii. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Bowron C, Maalim S. Chapter 4: Select Destinations: The Middle East & North Africa: Saudi Arabia: Hajj Pilgrimage, http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2016/select-destinations/saudi-ar...

ix. Pneumococcal disease: the leading vaccine-preventable cause of death in children under five, http://www.gavi.org/library/audio-visual/infographics/pneumococcal-disea...

x. Medical News Today. All About Pneumococcal Disease, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/info/pneumococcal-disease