A Biopharmaceutical company, Pfizer, says vaccines are critical in supporting global health security to prevent and control more than 30 infectious diseases and reduce hospitalisation of citizens.
Kodjo Soroh, Medical Director, Sub-Saharan Africa, Pfizer, said this in a statement on Tuesday in Lagos in commemoration of World Immunisation Week.
World Immunisation Week, celebrated in the last week of April, aims to highlight the collective action needed to protect people from vaccine-preventable diseases.
This year’s celebration is with the theme; ‘The Big Catch-Up’, representing a global push to vaccinate millions of children and return to pre-pandemic vaccination levels.
Soroh said that this year’s campaign came at a critical turning point for immunisation.
He noted that it was time to get on track after over two years of immunisation backsliding caused by COVID-19 pandemic disruptions.
“We must catch-up, restore and strengthen immunisation services to reach the millions of people missing out on the life-saving benefits of vaccines and stop outbreaks from accelerating.
“We should not forget that vaccines are one of the world’s most powerful and cost-effective public health tools available and have successfully helped to eradicate, eliminate, and manage many deadly infectious diseases.
“Smallpox has been eradicated and polio is nearly gone. Cervical cancer could become the first cancer to be eliminated,” he said.
According to him, vaccines also play a critical role in combating antimicrobial resistance, reduction of antibiotic use by preventing bacterial infections in the first place, such as with the pneumococcal and meningococcal vaccines.
“They can also prevent viral infections such as flu, which can provoke secondary infections requiring antibiotics,” he said.
Soroh also noted Pfizer’s history in vaccine research and development, including a pivotal role in the eradication of polio and smallpox.
“Through the development of innovative delivery systems and technologies (the term often used is `novel vaccines’), we’ve created innovations for preventing deadly bacterial infections.
“Today, more than at any time in history, people are benefiting from safe and effective vaccines to prevent infections and diseases.
“These injections have protected people of all ages, from newborns to seniors. However, our work is not done.
“Many viruses and bacteria still present a serious health risk, and so we continue to focus on research and development in new areas, with the goal of adding more approved vaccines to tackle pathogens.
“By getting vaccinated, you can protect yourself and also avoid spreading preventable diseases to other people in your community,” he said.
According to him, some people cannot get certain vaccines because they are too young, too old, have a weakened immune system or other serious health condition.
“Those people are less likely to catch a preventable disease when you and others around them are vaccinated against it.
“Help protect yourself and the people you love by staying up to date on recommended vaccinations,” he said.
Soroh said that global vaccination coverage figures are improving, but still mask huge inequalities that shouldn’t be ignored.