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The growing problem of antimicrobial resistance is one of significant worry for policy makers across the world. “The continuing increase in organisms that are resistant to one or more antimicrobial drug is one of the greatest threats that we face today” argued the Chief Medical Officer recently.(1)

The treatment of a huge range of conditions has been made possible through the use of these products. But policymakers have begun to realise the very severe impact on public health of antimicrobial resistance. As the Chief Medical Officer points out: “while a new infectious disease has been discovered nearly every year over the past 30 years, there have been very few new antibiotics developed leaving our armoury nearly empty as diseases evolve and become resistant to existing drugs.”(2)

Vaccination limits the development of antimicrobial resistance by decreasing the likelihood that bacteria targeted by these vaccines are exposed to antimicrobial agents (a.k.a. antibiotics).(3) If antimicrobial resistance makes it more difficult to treat conditions including vaccine preventable diseases, then policy makers are likely to need to refocus more significant efforts on prevention of disease in the first place. Vaccination should be part of this prevention toolkit.

References

(1) Infections and the rise of antimicrobial resistance (2013) Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer Volume Two, 2011
(2) Infections and the rise of antimicrobial resistance (2013) Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer Volume Two, 2011
(3) Vaccines Europe, quoted in SAATI (2013) Adult vaccination: a key component of healthy ageing. Benefits of life-course immunisation in Europe