The lifesaving impact of vaccines

The growth of the anti-vaccine movement in many developed countries—including the US—seems absurd to Myriam Henkens, international medical coordinator for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Henkens points out that such views are rare among communities in many countries where MSF works. “When you see the disease, you will never forget to get vaccinated,” she said. But in countries where people don’t regularly die from preventable diseases like measles or whooping cough, it can be easy to forget the vital importance of immunization.

During MSF immunization campaigns in response to epidemics, it is common for people to walk for days at a time to get themselves or their children vaccinated because they know the important role vaccines play in keeping them healthy. Preventing disease outbreaks is especially important in places where health care is limited or hard to access. And as the pandemic of coronavirus­ pushes even the most well-resourced health systems to the brink, the whole world is waiting on a vaccine.

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