Herd immunity and the influence of the anti-vaccination movement
Infectious diseases have long posed a threat to human health, whereas the search for efficient methods of protection has always preoccupied mankind.
Beginnings of vaccination
Throughout history, there have been many attempts at prevention that have led to better or worse results, but one thing remains certain: all these efforts have ultimately led to the fact that today we have an efficient method of protection against most serious infectious diseases – vaccines.
Creating herd immunity
Vaccination has achieved truly ground-breaking results in the control of infectious diseases. It is through mass vaccination and the creation of herd immunity that smallpox has been eradicated worldwide. The last known case was recorded in 1978, and in 1980 the World Health Organization announced the global eradication of smallpox.
Polio (poliomyelitis) has been eradicated in Europe: in 2020, the World Health Organization declared the European region polio-free. The last case of polio in Croatia was recorded a long time ago – in 1989.
Unfortunately, vaccination is still not widely available in many developing countries around the world. Thousands of children die from measles every year in Africa alone. Outbreaks even occur in developed countries where systematic vaccination against some infectious diseases has not yet been implemented. In 2008, an outbreak of measles occurred in Austria, Switzerland and Germany due to insufficient vaccination coverage.
Creating and maintaining herd immunity through vaccination is extremely important, not just to prevent the spread of infectious diseases in the population, but also to protect particularly vulnerable persons in whom vaccination is contraindicated or in whom vaccination cannot induce an immune response strong enough to prevent the development of the disease. The number of such individuals in the general population is small enough that it does not constitute a significant gap in herd immunity, and if most of the remaining population is vaccinated, they will be protected as well.
The anti-vaccination movement has substantially gained in popularity in recent years. The development of the Internet has facilitated the rapid sharing of various semi-information about vaccination that reaches a large number of people and results in more vaccine-hesitant persons who mistrust its efficacy and safety. The causes of such speculations could be debated indefinitely, but it can be assumed that the main issue lies in the fear of suspected harmful effects of vaccination.
Unjustified self-initiated postponement of vaccination scheduled as part of a mandatory vaccination program puts children at risk, who thus remain unprotected, and ultimately other members of the community due to the insufficient vaccination coverage of the population.
The promotion of vaccine refusal leads to the reduction of vaccination coverage and loss of herd immunity, and thereby creates the conditions for recurrence of almost forgotten diseases as well as their detrimental consequences.
Undesirable vaccination effects
Like medications, vaccines also have side effects that may occur after their use. They range from completely harmless and transient events to serious reactions. Mild side effects include complications related to reactions at the administration site (local redness, pain, and swelling at the injection site) and possibly mild general symptoms (fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite), which usually disappear within 24 to 72 hours. Unfortunately, although very rarely, sometimes severe complications may occur, such as meningoencephalitis, convulsions, and severe allergic reactions to certain vaccine components.
Side effects of medicines, including those of vaccines, are systematically reported and monitored, which is why today we have a reliable information system that enables a quality drug safety assessment. Sometimes the fear of possible side effects can result in vaccination avoidance, but what we can say with certainty is that the benefits of vaccine use for the general population far outweigh the potential risks. Assessing the possibility of immunization contraindications remains a very delicate and responsible job of medical professionals.
Marti Farm has many years of experience and knowledge precisely in the area of monitoring side effects of drug use, i.e. pharmacovigilance. As a reliable partner, Marti Farm ensures comprehensive coverage of regulatory services in the field of pharmacovigilance, regularly monitors regulations, and promptly adjusts its system to all necessary changes. Pharmacovigilance regulations are among the strictest in the world, but Marti Farm has proven itself through numerous audits that it has a superbly implemented system which can meet such rigorous requirements effortlessly and efficiently. If you have any questions or wish to collaborate with us regarding any pharmacovigilance activity, please feel free to connect with us.
These days, most of us are eagerly awaiting to hear good news about the development of a vaccine against COVID-19. Several formulations are already in the final trial stages, and the results are promising. If all goes as expected, hopefully we should be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel soon: if high vaccination coverage is achieved, we can expect the final end to a pandemic that few of us could have anticipated at the start of this millennium.
Despite anti-vaccination beliefs and attempts to downplay the incredible importance of vaccination, the efforts to control COVID-19 are based precisely on finding an effective vaccine. It is necessary to look at the bigger picture and accept both the benefits and risks of vaccines and learn from previous examples, which prove that systematic vaccination leads to a significant reduction in morbidity from various infectious diseases and minimization of mortality.
Emina Gržanić, DVM / Medical Affairs Manager
Lašćinska cesta 40
Planinska ulica 13/2
Office: +385 1 5588 297
Pharmacovigilance: +385 1 5588 297
Clinical trials: +385 1 5614 330
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Fax: +385 1 2420 860
Tel: +385 1 5588 297
Full company name
Short company name
Marti Farm Ltd. Trade and Services
Marti Farm Ltd.
Lašćinska cesta 40, HR-10000 Zagreb
Planinska ulica 13/2, HR-10000 Zagreb
a limited liability company
Commercial Court of Zagreb
HRK 20,000.00 (paid in its entirety)
Martina Diminić Smetiško, director of the
company (Representing the company
individually and independently, Responsible
person for data protection)
HR3623600001102197724 (Zagrebačka banka)
HR4324020061100628669 (Erste banka)
Full company name: Marti Farm Ltd. Trade and Services
Short company name: Marti Farm Ltd.
Headquarters: Lašćinska cesta 40, HR-10000 Zagreb
Office: Planinska ulica 13/2, HR-10000 Zagreb
Legal form: a limited liability company
Court register: Commercial Court of Zagreb
Registration number: 080751121
Share capital: HRK 20,000.00 (paid in its entirety)
Authorized representative: Martina Diminić Smetiško, director of the company (Representing the company individually and independently, Responsible person for data protection)
Bank account: HR3623600001102197724 (Zagrebačka banka), HR4324020061100628669 (Erste banka)