The country that requires its citizens to be vaccinated with the highest number of distinct antigens (Italy, 26) just happens to completely surround one of the countries that requires the fewest (San Marino, 5), a fact which is probably useless for anything other than demonstrating how nifty and flexible the World Health Organization’s vaccine database is.
Their interface isn’t ideal, but you can get all the data in spreadsheet form as well, and from there it’s easy to import into your favorite database software. In addition to antigen and country, the database also includes information on the recommended vaccine schedule and, when applicable, the parts of the country where each vaccine is required.
It’s an interesting way to put the American vaccine debate, and global public health efforts, in context. The numbers are a little misleading — some antigens seem very similar, or used only in small areas — but the broad strokes are still enlightening. The Bacille Calmette-Guérin vaccine, for the record, is a reasonably effective tuberculosis vaccine.
(Hat tip to Madison Park at CNN’s health blog)
I don’t know about this statement: “…a fact which is probably useless for anything other than demonstrating how nifty and flexible…” Seems that unless people do not migrate beyond their borders it says something about the potential pool of disease in neighboring nations. This can be an important piece of information when considering thresholds for what proportion of a particular population needs to be vaccinated in order for herd immunity to be in effect. Someone should really look at this.
Marya’s right, of course. San Marino’s a unique case, and I trivialized it in the name of a goofy introduction for a blog post. All flippancy aside, I found it as interesting as Marya did, especially since all international traffic to and from San Marino (with the exception of a few helicopters) runs through Italy.
There are similar border disparities around the globe, but none of the others are quite as severe or as unique.
Yes, Andrew, I agree with Marya. Finding your posting after a long search for just these data on the WHO website was a god-send for the book I’m writing on immunization! Thanks for the lead!