Role(s) of Vaccines and Immunization Programs in Global Disease Control

Mind the Nitty-Gritty Details

Much of the substantial progress seen in global health over the past several decades can be ascribed to the beneficial impacts of various vaccines and immunization programs on the control of serious disease among both individuals and populations. In only the first decade of the twenty-first century, an estimated 2.5 million deaths of children younger than five were prevented worldwide by vaccines. Given the relative successes of the GAVI Alliance (formerly, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation) and the recent call by the World Health Assembly for a global vaccine action plan to guide the world for the next 10 years, the world is focusing much attention, justifiably, on various aspects of macropolicy and planning for the progressive expansion of global vaccine efforts.

This brief report focuses on the “nuts and bolts” of the complex biological, epidemiologic, and risk management concepts that are the foundations of global and national “expert group” recommendations for specific target groups for currently available childhood vaccines and others. Using examples of specific vaccine successes and disease challenges, this report highlights the ongoing attention to detail required for the success of local, national, and global immunization efforts.

Nancy M. McLaren

Phillip Nieburg