By Cristina Niculescu and Nadya Velikova
One might say that vaccines have become the victims of their own success.
The COVID-19 vaccines were developed in record time, but it has been hard to gain widespread support for their use. We have become accustomed to vaccinations over many decades. But we also have grown much more concerned with vaccine safety. Many people today tend to forget or take for granted the benefits of vaccination programmes. Fake news and easy access to all kinds of information through social media are causing people not to trust their doctors and science as much as they did 50 years ago.
Despite the number of successful vaccines created for COVID-19, and almost two years after the start of the pandemic, people are still leading a compromised quality of life because of lockdowns, complicated travel restrictions, limited access to healthcare, etc.
Vaccines and mass vaccination programmes have contributed to the eradication of certain diseases in wealthy countries. Today, many infectious diseases from the past are rare and almost forgotten. Childhood immunizations have helped eradicate smallpox and nearly eradicated diphtheria, Haemophilus influenza type B meningitis, measles, mumps, poliomyelitis, rubella, and tetanus. In the developing world, the lack of vaccines still causes children to die, while in developed countries, we have the vaccines but there is growing hesitancy to take them. This resistance is putting at risk the gains achieved after decades of hard work by the medical community, researchers and governments.