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What if we could stop the medical conditions that affect millions of Americans each year from happening in the first place?
Much of what you see published in the media regarding health care is the treatment of medical conditions. The majority of the focus of new and cutting-edge research is to come up with new ways to combat conditions.
Vaccines: There is No Greater, Single Cost-Effective Measure
According to an article published by the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no greater single cost-effective measure that can be taken to improve modern healthcare than immunizations.1
On an annual basis, immunizations prevent 2 to 3 million deaths per year.1 Furthermore, it has been estimated that if the global vaccine initiative were to have greater support, the number of prevented deaths could rise another 1.5 million.1 The WHO also states that vaccines in their own right help lessen antibiotic resistance. This comes from minimizing the cases of bacterial caused disease outbreaks as well as the overuse and misuse of antibiotics that lead to potential resistance. A prime example of a bacterial born disease where this holds true is pneumonia.
In the United States, each year, one million people will seek medical attention due to pneumonia.2 Of those who seek treatment, more than 400,000 will be hospitalized and more than 50,000 people will die.
Given the overwhelming effects of such a condition, we should consider any opportunity to help minimize the chance of a devastating condition.2 Here is where vaccines show their potential. The original pneumonia vaccine, Pneumovax23, was 57 percent to 84 percent effective in preventing invasive pneumonia depending on preexisting conditions.3 This attributes to the potential to save many lives for years to come.
Vaccines are not limited to being useful with diseases that are bacterial in nature.
Some of the other well-known conditions for which vaccines play a large role in prevention are the flu and shingles.
These conditions are viral illnesses that can wreak havoc on a wide range of ages and can have devastating and lasting consequences. Approximately 1 out of every 3 people in the United States at some point in their life will develop shingles.4 But what most people don’t realize is that even if you have already had shingles, you can get it for a second, or even a third time. The condition itself can be extremely painful during the viral outbreaks but beyond that, severe nerve pain known as postherpectic neuralgia can last for months to years after the onset of shingles.
It is because of complications like this that Shingrix, the vaccine to help prevent or lessen the severity of shingles, makes its case. In the latest trials, Shingrix has shown to be 97 percent effective in preventing shingles among adults 50 to 69 years of age and 91 percent effective in adults 70 years of age and older.5
Vaccines have proven to be an asset to modern medicine. For more information on vaccines that could help protect you and your loved ones, contact your primary care provider or your pharmacist. Both will be able to help you see what vaccines you would benefit from.
110 facts on immunization. (2018, April 17). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/features/factfiles/immunization/en/
2Pneumonia Can Be Prevented-Vaccines Can Help | CDC. (2018, October 18). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/pneumonia/prevention.html
3Butler, J.C.; Breiman, R.F.; Campbell, J.F.; Lipman, H.B.; Broome, C.V.; Facklam, R.R.: Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine efficacy. An evaluation of current recommendations, JAMA. 270: 1826-31, 1993.
4Shingles | Surveillance, Trends, Deaths | Herpes Zoster | CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/shingles/surveillance.html
5Vaccines and Preventable Diseases. (2019, February 06). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/shingles/public/shingrix/index.html
Article by Doug Franzoni PharmD, BCGP, Ambulatory Care Pharmacist, University of Vermont Medical Center.