Why Vaccines are my Vocation
World Immunization Week (WIW) is recognized during the week of April 24–30. It is a good time to reflect on, and recognize our commitment to, the public health value of vaccination. Sponsored by the World Health Organization, the theme of this year’s WIW is “Protected Together, #VaccinesWork.” We fully support this statement, because Janssen believes in the power of vaccines.
Vaccination is one of the best ways to prevent disease. In fact, it’s widely recognized as the world’s most successful and cost-effective health intervention, saving up to three million lives every year – many of them children.
It’s quite remarkable what immunization has achieved. Today, there are more than 30 infectious diseases that are vaccine-preventable. Vaccines have virtually eliminated measles, diphtheria, and rubella in many parts of the world. They have rid the world of smallpox, and driven polio to the brink of eradication. New-generation vaccines against pneumococcal and rotavirus disease are already making the same kind of public health impact as their pioneering predecessors.
While there has been huge progress in the vaccine field, every year an estimated 1.5 million people still die from vaccine-preventable diseases.
Another challenge is that the risk posed by infectious diseases is expected to increase with the rise of globalization, population growth and aging, the emergence of megacities, climate change, and increasing antimicrobial resistance. These diverse forces make humanity more vulnerable to outbreaks or epidemics of certain diseases. The worst-case scenario would be a pandemic, in which a significant proportion of the world’s population is affected by a disease around the globe. Exactly 100 years ago, the “Spanish flu” epidemic of 1918 resulted in the deaths of approximately 50 million people: it was one of the world’s worst pandemics.
A century later, we’re working hard to tackle the complex challenges of infectious diseases. At Janssen, in addition to the significant strides that we’re making in therapeutics, we’re focused on developing novel, investigational vaccines aimed at protecting individuals against infection by diseases such as HIV, RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), and ExPEC (Extra-intestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli), a widespread drug-resistant form of E. coli. Additionally, we are working to create improved and more effective vaccines for diseases such as influenza and polio.
And we are firm believers that further progress can be made in ensuring the world is better prepared for potential disease outbreaks. That is why we remain engaged on vaccine development in areas including Ebola and Zika, and it’s also why we are proud to support initiatives such as the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
At Janssen, our innovative vaccine technology platforms offer real hope for the accelerated development of vaccine candidates. When it comes to preparing for life-threatening infectious disease outbreaks, the faster we can deliver prevention tools, the better.
Again, Janssen believes that “Protected Together, #VaccinesWork.” We hope you can express your support for the value of vaccines during World Immunization Week.