Next generation of vaccines set to tackle the biggest public health challenges of the decade

Posted On: 
30th April 2019

Vaccines are set to help the NHS tackle some of the biggest public health challenges it faces over the next decade, writes Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry's Dr Sheuli Porkess.

There is one area of science that is clear: vaccines work. They work so well in fact, that Public Health England say the only thing better for public health is clean water.

Since the founding of the NHS, vaccination has been at the very heart of keeping people healthy. In return for a little investment, we’ve seen diseases our grandparents once feared – like polio –eliminated.

But we don’t need to look to the distant past to see the incredible impact vaccines have had.

The meningococcal B vaccination programme, introduced in 2015, nearly halved cases of invasive meningococcal disease among eligible infants just 10 months after introduction.

Since 2013, the rotavirus vaccination programme has resulted in a 77% decline in laboratory-confirmed rotavirus infections among infants compared to pre-vaccination years.

And just last month it was reported that the routine introduction of the HPV vaccine for 12 –13-year-old girls in Scotland have dramatically reduced cases of cervical pre-cancer in young women since the programme was introduced 10 years ago.

As pharmaceutical companies continue to research and develop the next generation of vaccines, we should celebrate what’s already been achieved. We should also keep in mind what’s possible in the future.

Vaccines are set to help the NHS tackle some of the biggest public health challenges it faces over the next decade: tackling antimicrobial resistance by preventing infections before they start, preparing for health emergencies such as Ebola outbreaks, helping care for an ageing population and keeping people healthy from infections like flu.

As vaccines become an ever more important part of healthcare, we need to be confident that new programmes improve people’s health and provide good value for money compared to all the other things that the NHS could be spending its money on.

The Government has consulted on new plans for how they assess vaccination programmes. Any new rules shouldn’t mean vaccines face a higher hurdle than other medicines when having to demonstrate cost-effectiveness, nor should they undermine the success of current vaccination programmes in the NHS.

In the UK we spend less than 0.5% of the health budget on vaccines, and our national immunisation programme is one of the most effective in the world. We mustn’t undermine this, especially in the current climate of debate around vaccination.

Vaccines work, so our message is simple: continue to recognise the incredible impact vaccines have on public health and let’s work together to keep the UK  as an immunisation world-leader.

 

We’re celebrating World Immunisation Week (24 April – 30 April 2019) and the incredible impact vaccines have on people’s health and wellbeing. Find out more at www.abpi.org.uk.