We all know vaccines prevent life-threatening diseases, but there are also many unexpected ways vaccines prevent death and make the world a better place. Here are 5 surprising ways vaccines save and improve lives.
Vaccines protect people that don’t even get them
If enough people in a community are vaccinated, even people who can’t get vaccinated will be protected. This is called herd immunity, and it’s just as vital to disease prevention as individual immunity.
Even if vaccinated individuals get sick, the risk of complications will be lower
It’s true that because the flu shot has to be reformulated every flu season, effectiveness can vary drastically from year to year; it’s also difficult to reach the near complete protection that other vaccines achieve. However, when vaccinated people do get the flu they will often see less severe symptoms, decreasing the risk of hospitalization and death associated with the flu.
They can help stave off anti-microbial resistance
Vaccines can protect the effectiveness of other disease-fighting medications like antibiotics and antivirals. By helping to prevent the diseases in the first place, there is less of a need to utilize these treatment methods. The less frequently these medications are used, the less likely they are to be misused and, as a consequence, for pathogens to become resistant to them.
Vaccination has many small, unintended benefits
Lots of vaccines have benefits outside of their intended effect. Scientists call these non-specific benefits. In Africa, the measles vaccine has been linked to a decline in deaths from other infections by about a third, and in developed countries, vaccines have been shown to reduce risk for eczema and asthma.
Don't forget the economic benefits of vaccination
A dime of prevention is worth a dollar of cure. Because vaccines lower medical costs by reducing the need for often-expensive treatment, vaccines have economic benefits as well, especially in developing countries. In addition to reducing direct costs, vaccines protect the health of individuals, and therefore make way for gains in indirect costs, such as greater educational attainment, higher income, increased productivity, and higher savings. Simply put, vaccines make it easier for people to flourish.