Thanks to the success of the National Vaccination Program, many diseases are now under control – Breaking News

Karine Labaky, General Manager of Sanofi Vaccines Business Unit Türkiye, Iran and Levant:

Can you first tell us about Sanofi’s Vaccines Business Unit and your activities?

I would like to start by saying our purpose of existence, which I consider extremely important and which we are pursuing: as a Sanofi Vaccines Unit, our purpose is to live in a world where no one is harmed by vaccine-preventable diseases. The motivation of our work is to protect people against infectious diseases by producing safe and effective vaccines. As a result of this commitment, we provide more than a billion doses of vaccines to people around the world each year. As we improve our current vaccines for a healthy future, we aim to extend the benefits of vaccination to emerging infectious diseases. The global vaccine portfolio of the Sanofi Vaccines Business Unit includes polio, cholera, dengue, whooping cough, Japanese encephalitis, diphtheria, yellow fever, typhoid fever, seasonal flu, hemophilus influenza type b, hepatitis A and B, meningococcal infections, tetanus and rabies. It provides protection against various infectious diseases.

What kind of activities do you carry out in Turkey?

Since the day we started our activities in Turkey, we have been advocating a philosophy that seeks to inform society and healthcare professionals and does not compromise on medical ethics. In recent years, our focus has always been to continue to work on people’s needs for a healthy future. We have always fought against vaccine-preventable diseases and will continue to do so. In addition, I would like to add that we are proud of Sanofi by stating that it is the first company to invest in local vaccine production in Turkey and undertake technology transfer in this field. Thanks to this technology transfer realized by Sanofi in collaboration with Birgi Mefar to produce the vaccines included in the national vaccination calendar in Turkey, a total of 77 million doses of vaccines have been produced so far and 30 million children have been protected against diseases with these vaccines produced in Turkey.

What issues are at the top of your vaccination agenda today?

Increasing vaccine acceptance, one of the most important public health issues, is of great importance for protecting public health and preventing potential epidemics. In this direction, we are pleased to see that many diseases have been brought under control or completely eliminated thanks to the national vaccination program successfully implemented in our country.

On the other hand, in a country where childhood vaccination rates are high, spreading and increasing vaccination rates during pregnancy is a very important issue. Pregnancy vaccination is the most effective method of protecting both mother and fetus during pregnancy when susceptibility to infectious diseases increases and the newborn after birth. When the mother is vaccinated during pregnancy, the mother is given a vaccine-specific immune response, the transfer of vaccine-specific antibodies through the placenta and breast milk, directly protecting the baby against targeted pathogens in the first months of life.

Newborns are more susceptible to infections and death, especially in developing countries. Unfortunately, 47 percent of deaths in children under the age of five each year occur in newborns. Maternal vaccination has the potential to protect the mother, fetus and newborn against infection during the period of vulnerability. That’s why more and more countries have included vaccines for pregnant women in their national vaccination programs over the past 10 years. This is an important step in public health. As a Sanofi Immunization Unit, we work with the goal of a world where no one is harmed by vaccine-preventable diseases, and in this sense it is very important to protect pregnant women and their babies who are going through a sensitive period.

Sanofi Vaccines Business Unit Türkiye, Iran and Levant Medical Director Dr. Ozde Tirna:

Today we see news that people living in earthquake zones are more vulnerable to epidemic diseases. What would you like to say about this?

Yes, the consequences of the earthquake disaster, which occurred on February 6, 2023 and affected all of us, unfortunately continue. After disasters, the risk of contamination increases in areas such as tent or container cities, public buildings, social facilities.

Pregnant women in the earthquake zone are especially at risk of contracting infectious diseases during this period. Experts point out that pregnancy is already a sensitive period and when negative effects such as trauma and injuries, stress, unhealthy living conditions are added to it, the risk of infectious diseases can increase. In such cases, in addition to factors such as access to healthy drinking and potable water and suitable food, vaccines become extremely important to strengthen the immune system and prevent disease. For this reason, it can be said that pregnant people in the region have priority for vaccination.

So what vaccines are recommended for pregnant women and why are they needed in general?

In the past decade, more and more countries have included vaccines for pregnant women in their national vaccination programs. Vaccination with tetanus-containing vaccines during pregnancy has been recommended for many years in most low- and middle-income countries, and whooping cough and flu vaccination programs for pregnant women have recently been offered in some high- and low- and middle-income countries. Currently, the adult triple mixed tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap) vaccine, routinely administered in more than 50 countries around the world, provides both the mother and baby with immunity against these infections.

For example, many countries around the world provide whooping cough vaccines to pregnant women to protect babies from the disease. Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease that can cause serious illness in young babies. And research shows the effectiveness of the Tdap pregnancy vaccine in protecting newborns against whooping cough until vaccination programs begin.

The main factors influencing vaccination coverage in pregnant women appeared to be familiarity with the vaccine, severity and susceptibility of the disease, vaccine benefits, risk of side effects and harm during pregnancy, previous vaccination history and advice from health professionals and health authorities. For example, the French Ministry of Health introduced the Tdap vaccine for pregnant women in April and since then vaccination coverage in France has increased by 12 percent. In particular, the recommendation of the health authority and the official recommendation of vaccinations have the greatest positive effect on pregnancy vaccination coverage.


1. WHO Fact Sheets/Newborn Mortality.

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. whooping cough In: Hamborsky J, Kroger A, Wolfe S, eds. Epidemiology and prevention of vaccine-preventable diseases. Washington, DC: Public Health Foundation; 2015: 261-278.

3. Munoz FM, Jamieson DJ. Maternal immunization. Obstet Gynecol. 2019;133(4):739-753.

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