The last week of April each year is marked by WHO and partners as World Immunization Week. It aims to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease. Immunization saves millions of lives and is widely recognized as one of the world’s most successful and cost-effective health interventions. This year’s theme is: “Protected Together, #VaccinesWork”.
Immunisation saves millions of lives and is widely recognised as one of the world’s most successful and cost-effective health interventions.
Yet, there are more than 19 million unvaccinated or under-vaccinated children in the world, putting them at serious risk of these potentially fatal diseases.
Of these children, 1 out of 10 never receive any vaccinations, and most likely has never been seen by the health system.
Immunisation prevents illness, disability and death from vaccine-preventable diseases including cervical cancer, diphtheria, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, pertussis (whooping cough), pneumonia, polio, rotavirus diarrhoea, rubella and tetanus.
The Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) – endorsed by 194 Member States of the World Health Assembly in May 2012 – aims to prevent millions of deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases by 2020 through universal access to immunisation.
Despite improvements in individual countries and a strong global rate of new vaccine introduction, all of the GVAP targets for disease elimination—including measles, rubella, and maternal and neonatal tetanus—are behind schedule.
In order for everyone, everywhere to survive and thrive, countries must make more concerted efforts to reach GVAP goals by 2020.
Additionally, those countries that have achieved or made forward progress towards achieving the goals must work to sustain those efforts over time – so that no person goes without life-saving vaccines.
Expanding access to immunisation is crucial to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN..
Routine immunisation is a building block of strong primary health care and universal health coverage — it provides a point of contact for health care at the beginning of life and offers every child the chance at a healthy life from the start.
Immunisation is also a fundamental strategy in achieving other health priorities, from controlling viral hepatitis, to curbing antimicrobial resistance, to providing a platform for adolescent health and improving antenatal and newborn care.