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Vaccines – a victim of their own success?

09 October 2018

Professor Adam Finn gave an impassioned speech on the importance of protecting children and the wider population through effective vaccination programmes at the 68th Session of the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Regional Committee for Europe in Rome in September.

Child being vaccinated

You can read the full speech transcript here or listen to the podcast here.

In the context of falling vaccination rates for some diseases, Professor Finn argued that vaccines can be a victim of their own success:

“As a child I, and maybe some of you, had measles and whooping cough. As a young doctor I treated them. But the doctors and parents of today have never seen them. The politicians of today have other pressing problems and priorities. We forget these past plagues at our peril. They can, and do, return to kill our children if we drop our guard.

“We all must work to protect our children and our entire populations by securing and delivering effective universal vaccine programmes. We must protect everyone against the harms of preventable infection and the harms of misinformation, misunderstanding and complacency.”

Professor Finn is Professor of Paediatrics and a member of the programme management board at the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Evaluation of Interventions at the University of Bristol.
He delivered the speech in his capacity as Chair of the European Technical Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (ETAGE).

ETAGE is a body of six to eight immunisation experts appointed by the WHO Regional Director for Europe. The group is tasked with providing independent review and expert technical input to the Vaccine-preventable Diseases and Immunization programme (VPI) of WHO/Europe, with the goal of facilitating and accelerating achievements in relation to the eradication, elimination and control of vaccine-preventable diseases in the WHO European Region.


Further information

For more about the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Evaluation of Interventions research, see our Research themes.