World Immunization Week, April 2013
World Immunization Week – beginning on 20 April – aims to promote one of the world’s most powerful tools for health – the use of vaccines to protect, or “immunize”, people of all ages against disease.
Immunization is one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions and prevents between 2 and 3 million deaths every year. From infants to senior citizens, immunization protects against diseases such as diphtheria, measles, pertussis (whooping cough), pneumonia, polio, rotavirus diarrhoea, rubella and tetanus. The benefits of immunization are increasingly being extended to adolescents and adults, providing protection against life-threatening diseases such as influenza, meningitis, and cancers (cervical and liver cancers).
However, even now, an estimated 22 million infants are not fully immunized with routine vaccines, and more than 1.5 million children under 5 die from diseases that could be prevented by existing vaccines.
Goals: more awareness, access, and coverage
The ultimate goal of World Immunization Week is for more people – and their communities – to be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases. Specifically, during the week, WHO and partners work to:
- convince people that immunization saves lives;
- mobilize action to increase vaccination coverage with existing and newly available vaccines in underserved and marginalized communities; and
- reinforce political support for global immunization goals.
WHO encourages individuals and organizations working at international, regional, national, and community levels, in the public and private sectors and civil society, to coordinate and engage in activities during World Immunization Week. Working from the global slogan, “Protect your world – get vaccinated”, participation can be tailored to regional and national public health priorities. Activities may include vaccination campaigns, training workshops, round-table discussions, public information campaigns, and more.
Immunization Week initiatives began in the Region of the Americas in 2003. The Week was observed simultaneously in WHO’s six regions for the first time in 2012, with the participation of more than 180 countries, territories and areas.