Communicating Benefits from Vaccines Beyond Preventing Infectious Diseases

Infect Dis Ther. 2020 Sep;9(3):467-480. doi: 10.1007/s40121-020-00312-7. Epub 2020 Jun 24.


Despite immunisation being one of the greatest medical success stories of the twentieth century, there is a growing lack of confidence in some vaccines. Improving communication about the direct benefits of vaccination as well as its benefits beyond preventing infectious diseases may help regain this lost confidence. A conference was organised at the Fondation Merieux in France to discuss what benefits could be communicated and how innovative digital initiatives can used for communication. During this meeting, a wide range of indirect benefits of vaccination were discussed. For example, influenza vaccination can reduce hospitalisations and deaths in older persons with diabetes by 45% and 38%, respectively, but the link between influenza and complications from underlying chronic non-communicable diseases such as diabetes is frequently underestimated. Vaccination can reduce antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which is growing, by reducing the incidence of infectious disease (though direct and indirect or herd protection), by reducing the number of circulating AMR strains, and by reducing the need for antimicrobial use. Disease morbidity and treatment costs in the elderly population are likely to rise substantially, with the ageing global population. Healthy ageing and life-course vaccination approaches can reduce the burden of vaccine-preventable diseases, such as seasonal influenza and pneumococcal diseases, which place a significant burden on individuals and society, while improving quality of life. Novel disease surveillance systems based on information from Internet search engines, mobile phone apps, social media, cloud-based electronic health records, and crowd-sourced systems, contribute to improved awareness of disease burden. Examples of the role of new techniques and tools to process data generated by multiple sources, such as artificial intelligence, to support vaccination programmes, such as influenza and dengue, were discussed. The conference participants agreed that continual efforts are needed from all stakeholders to ensure effective, transparent communication of the full benefits and risks of vaccination.

Keywords: Communication; Direct benefits; Indirect benefits; Vaccination; Vaccines.

Publication types

  • Review