Benefits of vaccination for individuals

a girl with a newborn child
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Vaccination protects individuals against diseases that could have serious consequences for their health, for example:

  • diphtheria kills 1 in every 10 people who get it, even with treatment (1);
  • almost 9 out of 10 babies born to mothers who had rubella in early pregnancy, will suffer from congenital rubella syndrome (with conditions such as deafness, cataracts and learning disabilities) (2);
  • meningococcal disease kills 1 in 10 people affected, even with prompt diagnosis and treatment, while problems including neurological or hearing impairment and amputation occur in up to 20% of survivors (3); 
  • measles is highly contagious and 3 out of 10 people affected develop complications (4), which can include ear infection, diarrhoea, pneumonia and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain tissue);
  • pertussis (whooping cough) can be particularly serious in infants, causing coughing spells that may recur for up to two months. Complications include pneumonia, encephalopathy (a disease of the brain), seizures and even death (5).

This list with examples includes diseases for which vaccines are included in the national immunisation programmes, and/or are given to persons considered to be at a higher risk of getting the disease.



(1) ECDC factsheet - Diphtheria:

(2) ECDC factsheet -  Congenital Rubella Syndrome:

(3) ECDC factsheet - Meningococcal disease:

(4) US CDC Pink Book – Measles:

(5) ECDC factsheet – Pertussis:

When to vaccinate

Find national vaccination schedules for EU/EEA countries offering vaccinations for specific ages and populations.

Page last updated 13 Mar 2020