Vaccines: Very Successful, Strangely Controversial

Division of Infectious Diseases, and programs in Cellular and Molecular Biology, Cancer Biology, and Immunology, University of Michigan, United States


Vaccines prevent disease before individuals can become infected and thus, along with economic development, represent the greatest hope to alleviate the burden of infectious diseases and save lives worldwide. Many vaccines also offer the advantage of primarily targeting the young, hence not only saving lives in general, but particularly preserving the prime years of life. Development of vaccines requires a partnership among academia, industry, and government. However, there are multiple hurdles to maximizing the use of vaccines globally. While there are a host of scientific issues that are beyond the scope of this discussion, in this paper I specifically address some of the issues for which the intersection of policy makers, academics, and industry plays a vital role: combating the anti-vaccine movement, improving influenza vaccines, and strengthening the ability of regulatory agencies to efficiently evaluate vaccines.