Drawing of a girl at different ages

A Vaccine for You is a Vaccine for Everyone

We go to pre-natal scans, baby-proof our homes and teach our kids to swim, all in a bid to keep them safe. But one of the most effective ways of protecting your loved ones and your neighbors is through immunization, which builds a protective barrier around all the generations, from our newborns to grandparents.

This “herd immunity"-created when most of the population is protected against a virus or bacteria through vaccination1-acts as a protective “cocoon” notably around our babies under six months who are most at risk of developing infectious diseases but not old enough to be fully protected through vaccination. Herd immunity also provides protection for those people, who are not able to be vaccinated, for example those with weakened immune systems or people who are too ill to receive vaccines such as some cancer patients.

When this herd immunity breaks down, gaps in our protective barrier allow diseases to break through. A study from the US revealed that approximately 85% of infants with pertussis (whooping cough) contracted it from a family member2.  

But it’s not just our young children who are vulnerable. Vaccination is important at every stage of life. Our teenagers, who jostle for space in schools and university campuses, are particularly at risk from severe meningococcal disease. Between 10 to 20% of those infected will have permanent health damage and up to 10% will die, even with appropriate care3.

The vaccination schedule should not stop there. For some vaccines, such as diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, immunity can wear off over time, which is why it’s crucial to schedule “booster doses”. With increasingly busy lives it can be easy to forget the importance of topping up everyone’s immunity.

Video about Anna, age 1

Anna’s story

Herd immunity also protects your elderly parents, aunts and uncles. While we are all at risk of influenza, once over the age of 65, they will have a less robust immune system4, which puts them at an increased risk of influenza that can cause severe complications such as pneumonia, a heart attack, or stroke5.

A decline in vaccination rates can open the door for the return of certain diseases that had almost been wiped out. Even though measles vaccination resulted in an 80% drop in deaths between 2000 and 2017 globally, there were still 110,000 measles deaths in 2017, mostly among children under the age of five6.

When herd immunity breaks down, however, it threatens everyone. 

Recently an unvaccinated five-year-old boy visiting Costa Rica from France developed measles during his holiday. The country, which has been measles free since 2014, now faces a potential measles outbreak7

Unless people continue to protect themselves, diseases like this can re-emerge, which reinforces the message that a vaccination for you is also one for your family, your neighbor’s family and those who live half way across the world.

lives are saved every 60 seconds by vaccines worldwide<sup>8</sup>
Three young people walking and smiling
of people infected by meningococcal diseases are left with permanent damage to their health<sup>9</sup>
deaths prevented by the measles vaccination from 2000 to 2017<sup>10</sup>
of influenza-related deaths in the elderly can be reduced by vaccination<sup>11</sup>
of infants with whooping cough contracted it from a family member<sup>12</sup>
A man, a woman and a baby smiling
lives are saved by vaccination every year from severe infectious diseases<sup>13</sup>

Related articles

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The immune response is a natural mechanism activated by the human body when it detects the presence of an infectious agent

A man playing with a laughing boy

You, your loved ones and vaccination

Ongoing vaccination is a crucial cornerstone in keeping our communities healthy


About Sanofi Pasteur

We have been committed for more than 100 years to extending the life-saving and protective power of vaccination as broadly as possible. We partner with the public health, medical and scientific communities to improve access to life-protecting vaccines and increase vaccination coverage, while striving to develop new and improved vaccines to enhance health and well-being. 


  1. Vaccines Today. What is Herd Immunity? [Online] 2015. [Cited: 05 February 2019.].
  2. Skoff TH, Kenyon C, Cocoros N, et al. 4,s.l. : Sources of infant pertussis infection in the United States. Pediatrics, 2015, Pediatrics, Vol. 136, pp. 635‐641.
  3. WHO. Meningococcal vaccines: WHO Position Paper: November 2011.  Weekly Epidemiological Records. 2011, Vol. 47, pp. 521‐540.
  4. Aw, D., Silva, A. and Palmer, D. (2007). Immunosenescence: emerging challenges for an ageing population. Available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/j.1365-2567.2007.02555.x Accessed 30.05.18.
  5. Warren-Gash, C, et. al. (2018). Laboratory-confirmed respiratory infections as triggers for acute myocardial infarction and stroke: a self-controlled case series analysis of national linked datasets from Scotland. European Respiratory Journal, 51, p.8. 
  6. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/measles
  7. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/its-time-to-get-tough-with-anti-vaxxers-gq8prwcrv
  8. Rappuoli R, Pizza M et al. Vaccines, new opportunities for a new society. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2014, 34 (111): 12288-12293.
  9. WHO. Meningococcal vaccines: WHO Position Paper: November 2011.  Weekly Epidemiological Records. 2011, Vol. 47, pp. 521‐540.
  10. WHO. World Health Organization Measles Factsheet. [Online] November 2018. [Last accessed: 12 March 2019].
  11. WHO. WHO/Europe recommendations on influenza vaccination during the 2011-2012 winter season. [Online] October 2011. [Last accessed: 12 March 2019].
  12. Skoff TH, Kenyon C, Cocoros N, et al. 4,s.l. : Sources of infant pertussis infection in the United States. Pediatrics, 2015, Pediatrics, Vol. 136, pp. 635‐641.
  13. WHO. Better supply systems key to reach all children with life-saving vaccines [Online] April 2013. [Cited: February 8, 2019]

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