The role of vaccines in combatting antimicrobial resistance

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2021 May;19(5):287-302. doi: 10.1038/s41579-020-00506-3. Epub 2021 Feb 4.


The use of antibiotics has enabled the successful treatment of bacterial infections, saving the lives and improving the health of many patients worldwide. However, the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has been highlighted as a global threat by different health organizations, and pathogens resistant to antimicrobials cause substantial morbidity and death. As resistance to multiple drugs increases, novel and effective therapies as well as prevention strategies are needed. In this Review, we discuss evidence that vaccines can have a major role in fighting AMR. Vaccines are used prophylactically, decreasing the number of infectious disease cases, and thus antibiotic use and the emergence and spread of AMR. We also describe the current state of development of vaccines against resistant bacterial pathogens that cause a substantial disease burden both in high-income countries and in low- and medium-income countries, discuss possible obstacles that hinder progress in vaccine development and speculate on the impact of next-generation vaccines against bacterial infectious diseases on AMR.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bacterial Infections / prevention & control*
  • Bacterial Vaccines / immunology*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial* / drug effects
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial* / immunology
  • Humans


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Bacterial Vaccines