The Paradox of Vaccine Resistance

A recent editorial highlights the fact that the “last mile is the longest” when it comes to eradicating diseases with vaccines (NEJM 2013; 368: 1374-75).  The point the authors make is that as vaccines become successful, there is increasing refusal in communities to receive vaccines.  Few individuals may have direct or indirect experience with vaccine-preventable diseases when initial efforts are successful.

Much like bacterial resistance to antibiotics, individuals may become resistant to the use of vaccines when the perception of their utility dissipates.  As such, the authors note that eradication efforts going forward must not be a half-hearted effort. “If a disease such as measles is considered a priority by the global public health community, human and financial resources should be committed up front to a full-scale eradication initiative.”

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