Importance of immunization programmes

Child with smallpox
This image shows a child with smallpox, a serious, contagious, and sometimes fatal infectious disease. The only prevention of smallpox is vaccination.

Each year, vaccines prevent more than 2.5 million child deaths globally. An additional 2 million child deaths could be prevented each year through immunizationImmunizationThe process by which a person or animal becomes protected against a disease through an enhancement of their immune response. This term is different from vaccination which is a form of immunization where the body learns to recognize a particular foreign object (active immunization). Passive immunization can be provided by administering external antibodies that will temporarily help strengthen the body's response without inducing memory against a specific foreign object. with currently available vaccines.2

Why are vaccines so special?

Key point

The impact of vaccination on the health of the world's peoples is hard to exaggerate. With the exception of safe water, nothing else, not even antibioticsAntibioticA substance that kills or inhibits the growth of bacteria. Antibiotics (in trace amounts) are used during the manufacturing phase of some vaccines to prevent bacterial contamination of the tissue culture cells., has had such a major effect on the reduction of mortality (deaths) and morbidity (illness and disability) and on population growth.6