How Can Vaccines Contribute to Solving the Antimicrobial Resistance Problem?

mBio. 2016 Jun 7;7(3):e00428-16. doi: 10.1128/mBio.00428-16.


There is a growing appreciation for the role of vaccines in confronting the problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Vaccines can reduce the prevalence of resistance by reducing the need for antimicrobial use and can reduce its impact by reducing the total number of cases. By reducing the number of pathogens that may be responsible for a particular clinical syndrome, vaccines can permit the use of narrower-spectrum antibiotics for empirical therapy. These effects may be amplified by herd immunity, extending protection to unvaccinated persons in the population. Because much selection for resistance is due to selection on bystander members of the normal flora, vaccination can reduce pressure for resistance even in pathogens not included in the vaccine. Some vaccines have had disproportionate effects on drug-resistant lineages within the target species, a benefit that could be more deliberately exploited in vaccine design. We describe the effects of current vaccines in controlling AMR, survey some vaccines in development with the potential to do so further, and discuss strategies to amplify these benefits. We conclude with a discussion of research and policy priorities to more fully enlist vaccines in the battle against AMR.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Bacterial Infections / prevention & control*
  • Bacterial Vaccines*
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial*
  • Haemophilus influenzae / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Neisseria meningitidis / drug effects
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / drug effects
  • Vaccination / adverse effects


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Bacterial Vaccines