Biopharma Industry Celebrates Vaccine Breakthroughs During National Immunization Awareness Month
August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM), which is recognized each year in an effort to highlight the importance of vaccinations. Vaccines save millions of lives every year and represent some of the most impactful public health advances seen to date. They play a critical role in reducing the spread of, and, in some cases, eliminating the threat of the world’s many devastating infectious diseases.
Even though the emergence of COVID-19, monkeypox and polio have brought the importance of immunizations to the forefront, vaccines have been around for centuries. The first vaccine was discovered in 1796 to combat smallpox, one of history’s deadliest diseases. This vaccine eventually led to the complete eradication of smallpox worldwide and is currently being used to vaccinate against monkeypox.
Vaccinations enable people of all ages to develop immunity or protection from some diseases that are dangerous or potentially deadly. They reduce risks of getting a disease by training the immune system to create antibodies, just as it does when it’s exposed to a disease. However, because vaccines contain only killed or weakened forms of germs like viruses or bacteria, they do not cause the disease or put someone at risk of its complications. Once exposed to a specific illness’s germs, our bodies remember how to fight them off and become immune to that illness.
Due to scientific discoveries from worldwide biopharma companies, we now have vaccines to prevent more than 20 life-threatening diseases, helping people of all ages live longer, healthier lives. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), immunization currently prevents 3.5-5 million deaths every year from diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, influenza and measles. These vaccines also protect people from Hepatitis B and Human Papillomavirus (HPV), precursors to liver and cervical cancers and other deadly diseases like anthrax, cholera and tuberculosis.
Although COVID-19 boosters will be a top priority for public officials worldwide, there are still an abundance of diseases and infections that biotechnology companies, scientists and researchers are working on developing vaccines for today. Check out this link for more information about California companies and institutions that are working on developing vaccines to treat a variety of diseases.
The good news is a 2022 report from the WHO shows the overall share of communicable diseases decreased globally from over 30 percent in 2000 to roughly 18 percent in 2019. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic childhood vaccination rates in many countries worldwide have dropped to the lowest level since 2008. During NIAM, it’s important to talk a healthcare provider about getting caught up on routine vaccinations and protected against serious diseases.
For more information, contact Patty Cooper with the California Biotechnology Foundation at 916-764-2434 or [email protected].