The history of vaccines dates back to the 1790s when Edward
Jenner created the first vaccine for smallpox. Throughout the years more
vaccines have been made, and some diseases have been eradicated. The current
culture of globalization, immigration, and economic growth have allowed new
infections to emerge and those that we thought were gone to come back.
Researchers believe that more advancements will come when
vaccines meet big data, allowing for personalized vaccine design and
administration. The emergence of data analytics in healthcare and life sciences strives
to gather information to place the patient where they should be in the
healthcare industry — right in the center.
History of Vaccines
Vaccines began with the long history of disease in humans.
Evidence shows that the Chinese employed smallpox vaccination as early as 1000
CE. Once Edward Jenner created immunity to smallpox by using cowpox, the
practice became widespread. Advancements in medicine and technology resulted in
the eradication of smallpox.
Following Jenner’s discoveries in vaccinology came names
like Pasteur, Salk, and Sabin. With each advancement came benefits to the
public and the need for new approaches to the creation of new vaccines.
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 83.4 percent of
all children aged 19-35 months received the Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis
(DPT) vaccine in 2016. Over 90 percent of children in the same age group
received polio, Hepatitis B, and Chickenpox vaccinations.
The work in vaccinology isn’t done. Around the globe,
under-vaccination is happening every day due to the lack of education and
ability to pay for this life-saving disease prevention strategy. Technology
might be the best shot out there to find new ways to pull together critical
information and save lives.
The Importance of Vaccinations
Vaccines aren’t just for children. Adults benefit from many
vaccines that can protect them from dangerous or even deadly illnesses.
Diseases that can be prevented through vaccinations can cause long-term
illness, hospitalization, and death. Getting vaccinated also cuts down on the
spread of diseases such as flu, whooping cough, and meningitis. Chronic
conditions such as diabetes and asthma can weaken the immune system making some
vaccine-preventable illnesses more severe. The list of needed vaccines is
different from one country to the next. Many countries require the BCG vaccine for
Tuberculosis. However, this vaccine isn’t necessary in the U.S. because
Tuberculosis happens with such low incidence.
yourself with vaccination isn’t only good for health, but it’s
beneficial to the bank accounts of individuals, insurance companies, and the
government. Getting sick is costly and might include medical visits, treatment,
and missing school or work.
More people than ever travel, making vaccination crucial to
overall well-being. Traveling
outside of the U.S. can expose you to an illness that isn’t common
here. For example, if you’re heading to Belize, you probably need to get a
typhoid vaccine to protect you from typhoid contaminated food and water.
Big Data in the Healthcare Industry
Americans spent $3.5 trillion on healthcare in 2017
according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Many technology
companies are trying to find ways, such as AI in healthcare, into this lucrative industry.
This dollar figure isn’t only racked up within the confines of hospitals and
other medical treatment facilities. The School of Business at The George Washington
University reported that Americans spent $93.6 billion on nutrition,
$61.6 billion on weight loss, and $11.3 billion on alternative medicine.
Americans are looking for advancements and are willing to
spend their money to get them. The public is open to innovative options
for care such as wireless defibrillators and pacemaker checkups, evaluating
vital signs with smartphone technology, and performing electrocardiograms at
home with a mobile app. Up to 82 percent of consumers even said they were open
to trying new ways of seeking medical attention. All of this data has people in
the big data and technology business excited.
Vaccinology 3.0 Framework
Vaccinology 1.0 began with the smallpox injection. Second
generation vaccines include tetanus, diphtheria, and influenza. Vaccinology 3.0 will be achieved with the help of big data.
As more health systems and physicians transition to online medical records,
access to a wealth of data is possible. Big data can help with vaccine
discovery and development as well as the creation of safety monitoring to
generate more information about how consumers react to the vaccine education.
Big data can help collect vaccine-related information
through mobile and smartphone applications. It can also see how often people
search for vaccination and other related keywords online. Data about people’s
perceptions of vaccines and why they choose to vaccinate or not can help
healthcare workers engage with consumers and plan communication strategies to
educate the public about vaccinations better and promote literacy.
Examples of the use of big data to improve vaccination
numbers include Project
Tycho at the University of Pittsburgh. This project gives access to
historical records on more than 56 diseases. Researchers can use this data to
pinpoint areas of interest and better understand consumer behaviors. As
diseases like measles are making a comeback, the public needs big data to
provide insight into the future of disease prevention.
Strengthening Disease Prevention
Some countries are using big data to help end preventable deaths. As stories like Ines Sampaio’s come out, more people are wondering how
to use modern advancements to alert doctors and consumers about the risks of
Sampaio wasn’t vaccinated against measles on the advice of
her physician. However, all of her siblings had received their vaccines,
meaning there wasn’t any suggestion that her family was anti-vaccination. When
an outbreak happened in Portugal, Sampaio’s death was the first from the
outbreak since the disease had been declared eradicated in the country.
Electronic vaccination records could be vital to the
advancement of disease prevention. Some countries, including the UK, use the
records to pinpoint areas where vaccination uptake is too low. This information
is then used to provide targeted education to doctors and health authorities to
raise the number of vaccinations to acceptable levels.
The possibilities with big data and vaccinology are endless.
Lists could be automatically generated to identify under-vaccinated
populations, determining what vaccines are overdue, and giving reminders to
doctors and the public. Systems such as these might be the best use of big data
in the quest of delivering holistic and safe health to people around the globe.