By Michael Nally, executive vice president, chief marketing officer, Merck

Vaccination is considered one of the greatest public health success stories of the last two centuries and has helped prevent millions of contagious, and in some cases, life-threatening diseases. Globally, vaccines have eradicated or significantly decreased diseases, such as smallpox and polio. While it is important to recognize and remember the past achievements of vaccination, we must continue our work to address challenges that still exist today.

Our increasingly interconnected world continues to create a number of challenges for infectious disease prevention, and each day our scientists work to discover and develop new vaccines and approaches. Serious disease outbreaks force us to rethink how we address and prepare for potential global pandemics. And the threat of emerging infectious diseases challenges us to find new vaccines where previously none existed. We need to continue to focus on the most promising science to address significant unmet needs around the world.

Making vaccines available to more people around the world and increasing vaccination rates is not only critical to protecting global public health, it is part of our core values as a company. According to a report from UNICEF released in July 2018, a record number of infants were vaccinated in 2017 yet there are still more than 19 million children around the world that miss out on vaccinations. We will continue to work with partners in the global health community to find new approaches to expanding access to our vaccines.

In response to this unmet need, our employees are working hard to increase the total number of doses that we can supply. In fact, since 2010, we have increased the total number of doses supplied globally by approximately 70%. But our work is not done; we are continuing to invest in manufacturing capacity and end-to-end supply improvements to help meet growing worldwide demand.

“Passionate” is the word that comes to mind when I think about our employees. Whether on the research, manufacturing, or commercial side, I have witnessed this passion time and again. As we look to the future, I am committed to investing in and supporting our people, which is critical to achieving our goal of helping to protect current and future generations from vaccine-preventable diseases.

For more than a century, Merck has been inventing vaccines for many of the world's most challenging diseases. It is a legacy of prevention we live every day, built upon our commitment to inventing for a healthier future, and it is this commitment that will continue to drive us forward for a more hopeful tomorrow.