Immunization reduces antibiotic use in children by preventing flu-related illnesses and secondary infections

Several studies have shown a 13-50% reduction in the use of antibiotics by children who have received influenza vaccine compared with unvaccinated controls. This is due to a decline in febrile illnesses causes by influenza — for which antibiotics are often prescribed inappropriately — as well as a decline in secondary bacterial infections requiring antibiotic treatment, such as pneumonia and middle ear infections, that are triggered by influenza.

Immunization with pneumococcal conjugate vaccine reduces drug-resistant cases of pneumococcal diseases in children and adults

Studies in several countries have shown that, following the introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, there was a reduction in the number and percent of drug-resistant cases of pneumococcal diseases in children, and in some countries in adults, due to herd effects. In Japan there was a 10-fold decline in the proportion of penicillin-resistance among cases of invasive pneumococcal disease (from 56% to 5%), and in the U.S. there were reductions of 81% and 49% in the proportion of penicillin-resistant cases in children less than two years and in adults more than 65 years old, respectively.

Investment in disease surveillance in areas of conflict can prevent new outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases

The development and successful implementation of a coordinated, multi-country plan in response to a wild polio outbreak in Syria and Iraq halted the outbreak within 6 months. The response, which involved strengthening acute flaccid paralysis surveillance and more than 70 synchronized mass polio vaccination campaigns in 8 Middle Eastern countries (reaching >27 million children), could serve as a model for responding to disease outbreaks in areas affected by conflict and political instability.

Armed conflict can lead to outbreaks of polio

An outbreak of wild polio virus began two years after the onset of the civil war in Syria and subsequently spread to Iraq, causing a total of 38 cases (36 in Syria). Factors leading to the outbreak included a decline in polio surveillance and in polio vaccination coverage (from 83% for 3 doses of oral polio vaccine pre-war in Syria to 47-52%).

Collapse of primary healthcare during humanitarian emergencies can lead to infectious disease outbreaks in neighboring areas

The humanitarian emergency in Venezuela, and resulting collapse of its primary health care infrastructure, has caused measles and diphtheria to reemerge — disproportionately affecting indigenous populations — and spread to neighboring countries. This sets the stage for the potential reemergence of polio. The re-establishment of measles as an endemic disease in Venezuela (with >5,500 confirmed cases) and its spread to neighboring countries threaten the measles-free status.

Immunization with PCV reduced antibiotic prescriptions for children and slowed antibiotic resistance

In Iceland, a study of all children born over an 11-year period, before and after the introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) into the national immunization program, found a 6% decrease in all antibiotic prescriptions for children during their first four years of life and a 22% reduction in prescriptions for otitis media after the vaccine was introduced. Thus, in addition to reducing the burden of pneumococcal disease, PCV may also slow the spread of antibiotic resistance.

Universal hepatitis B vaccination for newborns in refugee camps is highly cost-effective

Providing a birth dose of hepatitis B vaccine to all newborns (in addition to routine HepB immunization) was found to be a highly cost-effective means of preventing hepatitis B-related deaths in three refugee populations in Africa which are at extremely high risk of hepatitis B infection. Providing a birth dose only to newborns whose mothers test positive on a rapid diagnostic test was less cost-effective than vaccinating all newborns automatically. Thus, universal hepatitis B vaccination of newborns should remain a priority in refugee camps, despite competing humanitarian needs.

Immunizing infants against typhoid can sharply reduce antibiotic-resistant cases

A study of the impact of typhoid conjugate vaccines in a hypothetical endemic population predicts that the number of antibiotic-resistant typhoid cases will decrease sharply if at least 80% of infants are vaccinated. However, the percent of cases that are resistant is not expected to change with vaccination, thus the disease will have to be nearly eliminated to get rid of all antibiotic resistant typhoid.