Vaccines and immunisation

Vaccines and immunisation
The rapid development and administering of new vaccines
Immunisation is a global health success story that saves millions of lives every year. We take a look at the development of vaccines and how cutting-edge technologies are changing the vaccine landscape.
Dr Avron Urison
Dr Avron Urison - CEO: HealthCare Plan
25 March 2022 | 3 minute read
Immunisation and vaccination

Vaccines reduce risks of getting diseases by working with your body’s natural defences to build protection. When you get a vaccine, your immune system responds.

There are vaccines available that prevent more than 20 life-threatening diseases, helping people of all ages live longer, healthier lives. Immunisation currently prevents two to three million deaths every year from diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, influenza and measles. Immunisation is a key component of primary health care and an indisputable human right.

The rapid development of new vaccinations

Traditionally, vaccines take over a decade to research, develop, and be confirmed as safe for human use. For many years, scientists have recognised that this process is not fast enough to respond to novel infectious diseases.

Before COVID-19 emerged, scientists had been working on cutting-edge platform technologies to change the vaccine landscape. When COVID-19 became a global pandemic, scientists were under immense pressure to produce a new vaccine in a short timeframe. Thanks to developments, scientists were equipped with the tools to create new vaccinations in record-breaking times.

Syringe-less vaccines

Historically, syringes have been vital for administering vaccinations. Rates of Trypanophobia (the fear of needles) are fairly prevalent, with recent studies estimating that around 20%-50% of adolescents and 20%-30% of young adults exhibit fear of needles.

To overcome this issue, scientists are developing a method of delivering vaccinations via micro-patches. A team at the Hilleman Labs in India has recently developed such a patch that can be used to vaccinate against Hepatitis B.

The method of patch-delivery also has further advantages. They are cheap to make and easy to store, whereas many syringe-delivered vaccines are required to be kept at cold temperatures so that they remain viable.

The hidden cost of getting COVID-19

Those who remain unvaccinated face not only health risks, but also a bigger and more severe financial hit. The public healthcare environment has shown results that only 16 944 413 people living in South Africa have been vaccinated. This is only 35.5% of adults and 23.7% of the total population.

The average cost of admission to ICU, per patient, is R22 700 per Intensive Care Unit (ICU) day. There is no doubt that vaccinations not only save lives but also reduce the burden on the public healthcare system, as well as saving billions in costs related to treating COVID.

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