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Vaccine. 2001 Mar 21;19(17-19):2206-9.

The future of vaccines, immunisation concepts and practice.

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GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals, 89 rue de l'Institut, 1330, Rixensart, Belgium.


Vaccines have prevented more deaths, disability and suffering than any other medical discovery or intervention. Recent breakthroughs in immunology and genomics offer the prospect of the development of many new prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines not only against infectious diseases but also for use in conditions such as allergy, autoimmunity and carcinogenesis where malfunction of the immune system undoubtedly plays a role. These hopeful perspectives are however dimmed by several counterproductive societal trends that include the spreading-although unjustified-belief that vaccines are not safe and may even be unnecessary, escalating costs of vaccine research, development, production and control that are exacerbated by political pressure on selling prices and expensive lawsuits by 'victims' of vaccination who claim excessive compensation. Negative media coverage of vaccine issues is adversely affecting acceptance of vaccination. In spite of these negative trends, vaccines should have a bright future, because it is increasingly being realised that prevention is not only better than cure but it is often also more cost-effective. A better understanding of the dynamics of microbial transmission in populations is leading to more rational immunisation practices on a global scale that could lead to eradication of several pathogens. Attention is being given to making vaccines more user-friendly through the development of combined vaccines and the introduction of less invasive inoculation techniques.

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