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The production of vaccines

Vaccines are an essential tool when it comes to preventing infectious diseases like bacterial meningitis and septicaemia. They can be used in National Immunisation Programmes as recommended by a country’s specialist medical advisors, or used in response to a sudden outbreak of disease.

Without vaccination, the world would be a very different place.

Knowing how important vaccines are, it’s not surprising that if for some reason one suddenly becomes unavailable, people can become concerned. Surely it can’t take that long to produce a vaccine?

In actual fact, the process for producing any kind of vaccine includes a number of steps and can take anywhere from between 6 and 22 months.1

The reason it can take nearly two years to manufacture is the length of each of those steps.

Almost all the vaccines we use are produced by private pharmaceutical companies. CoMO works with all the relevant companies to understand their priorities and processes, and to lobby for the widest possible access to meningitis vaccines everywhere in the world.

One of the principal pharmaceutical companies making meningitis vaccines is Glaxo Smith Kline, and GSK have produced a video explaining what each of these steps involve and how long they normally take.

In total it describes nine steps, from the initial starting point of research and development (which can take years!), through the complicated processes of actually creating and combining the substances that constitute a safe, effective and high quality vaccine, to the packaging and distribution at the end.

So, if you are unable to access a vaccine because there is a shortage, or indeed if it’s simply not available where you are, what should you do?

In the case of bacterial meningitis and septicaemia, the best thing you can do is learn the symptoms. By making yourself aware of what to look out for, you can try to catch these infections early. Meningitis and septicaemia can become serious very quickly so it’s important to act immediately if you suspect an infection so that treatment can be started as soon as possible.



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