Pharmaceutical Industry Must Be Part of New Government Alliance to Boost Vaccination Rates

Posted on April, 24 - 2019

Pharmaceutical Industry Must Be Part of New Government Alliance to Boost Vaccination Rates, Says IPHA

On World Immunisation Week, pharmaceutical innovators say it’s vital to take steps to reduce vaccine hesitancy and to dispel ‘damaging’ myths about vaccination.

The organisation representing pharmaceutical innovators has called on the Government to include industry on a new alliance aimed at improving vaccination rates.

The Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA), which represents the research-based pharmaceutical industry, said it was vital to take steps to reduce vaccine hesitancy and to dispel “damaging” myths about vaccination.

As World Immunisation Week starts today [Wednesday], IPHA welcomed the initiative by the Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, to form an alliance to promote the take-up of vaccinations. But industry should be represented on the group, according to IPHA, along with medical professionals, educators, parents, patient advocates and policymakers.

IPHA has launched a social media campaign, #VaccinesWork, aimed at raising public awareness about the importance of vaccination. The WHO estimates that vaccines saves up to three million lives each year. With the exception of clean, safe drinking water, vaccination is one of the most successful and cost-effective public health interventions ever. However, its success is increasingly under threat as vaccination rates continue to fall below the required 95% uptake rate to ensure ‘herd protection’. A direct result of this is an increase in the number of global outbreaks of serious diseases such as measles. The best way to protect populations against these diseases is to vaccinate directly.

IPHA Chief Executive, Oliver O’Connor, said all stakeholders, including industry, must work together to ensure people make decisions about vaccinations based on facts.

Vaccines work. They save lives and protect the wider community. We welcome the announcement by Minister Harris that he intends to establish an alliance of likeminded stakeholders to tackle misinformation and lay out the facts about the benefits of vaccination. Our industry, which develops vaccines, are strongly placed to support that initiative. We look forward to being part of it”.

“We hope World Immunisation Week and our social media campaign help to drive awareness of the benefits of vaccination and encourage people to play their part in stopping the spread of vaccine preventable diseases,” said Mr O’Connor.

ENDS

Notes for Editors

The World Health Organisation identifies vaccine hesitancy among the top 10 threats to global health in 2019. This hesitancy is caused by a number of elements including misinformation, complacency and varying societal factors. Vaccines have potentially become a victim of their own success with people becoming desensitised to the potentially devastating effects of vaccine preventable diseases. For example, it is estimated that 110,000 people died from measles in 2017. Most of those who died were under the age of five. This equates to 301 preventable deaths every day or nearly 13 each hour. Aside from this, measles is a highly infectious and serious disease that can cause chest infections, fits, ear infections, swelling on the brain and brain damage.