The success or failure of vaccination programmes is about much more than simply science. Even when science can provide an effective vaccine with almost no side effects, to achieve “herd” or community immunity requires high vaccination rates. Only when enough people are vaccinated can we prevent a disease from taking hold in a community and provide immunity for those who are most vulnerable or who are not able to be vaccinated.
The UK is considered to be one of the leading countries in the world for vaccine policy and implementation and this supplement looks at the main issues that could risk destabilising the progress and development. On page 4, Shazia Sheikh looks at the varying success rates for the different approaches around Europe to meningitis C immunisation and identifies what the UK is doing right. On page 6, our round table participants consider the challenges ahead, in the context of the Health and Social Care Act; looking at issues around education and the way information is given to the public, and the perception of vaccine side effects, which is borne out of peoples’ trust and confidence in healthcare professionals. The discussion also
looks at the importance of partnerships between biotechnology companies, academia, pharmaceutical companies, governments and charities to stay ahead of the curve in vaccine policy.
On page 12, Liam Donaldson looks at the role of the UK in global public health. Child health specialists Dr David Elliman and Dr Helen Bedford look at public confidence in vaccines on page 13. Finally, on page 14, Linda Glennie warns us not to become too complacent or take the success achieved by
vaccines for granted.