Vaccines can alleviate the disruptions to health systems and health services caused by disease outbreaks.
Key Evidence: Meningococcal meningitis epidemics in Burkina Faso “… disrupted all health services from national to operational levels,…” according to a 2011 study. Impacts included a shortage of available hospital beds and medicines, a reduction or delay in routine lab analyses for other diseases, longer wait times, and an increase in misdiagnoses by overtaxed health workers.
Key Evidence: Fear of Ebola during the 2014-2016 epidemic in 3 West African countries had a major impact on the health sector in neighboring Nigeria, where hospitals reported sharp decreases in patient volume resulting in major financial losses. Some hospitals also turned away febrile patients to prevent being associated with Ebola while staff in other hospitals abandoned their posts.
Key Evidence: The potential for a spike in COVID-19 concurrent with influenza season could threaten to overwhelm healthcare systems, particularly in resource-limited contexts. A double burden of influenza and COVID-19 cases could also increase risk of cross-infection and transmission in hospital settings. This mathematical modeling study found that increasing influenza vaccine uptake would help manage respiratory outbreaks coinciding with peak flu season and thus reduce the potential strain on healthcare systems responding to COVID-19.
Key Evidence: A 2015 study projected that the crippling of immunization programs resulting from the 2014 Ebola epidemic in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone could double the number of people at risk of a measles outbreak, and could cause up to 16,000 measles deaths, surpassing the number of deaths caused by Ebola itself.