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Vaccination: Your best shot

Categories: child health, immunization, infectious disease, measles

World Immunization Week Banner

In 2002, I was in Maracaibo, Venezuela assisting with the investigation of the last measles outbreak in South America when the news arrived: Ministers of health from the region agreed that a synchronized week of vaccination in the hemisphere would help prevent future outbreaks and increase access to immunization for many who would miss this opportunity. The idea of Vaccination Week in the Americas ignited 12 years ago and is now a global initiative: World Immunization Week! Since 2003, more than 465 million people in the Americas have been vaccinated under the framework that emerged from the original idea of Vaccination Week in the Americas (VWA), which takes place the last week in April every year.

Carla Lee, MA, Public Health Advisor, CDC Global Immunization Division

Carla Lee, MA, Public Health Advisor, CDC Global Immunization Division

VWA is truly a collaborative effort led by countries and territories of the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) to improve equity and access to vaccination for families. VWA activities strengthen the national immunization programs in the Americas by reaching out to families with little access to routine immunization programs. The focus is to find people living in urban peripheries, rural and border areas and in indigenous or other hard-to-reach communities and offer them vaccines.

The work has saved lives.

The Region of the Americas encompasses the entire Western Hemisphere (from Canada in the very north all the way down to the southern tip of South America, and all the countries in between), was certified polio-free in 1994. It interrupted the spread of indigenous measles in 2002 and rubella in 2009. However, globally these viruses are still circulating.  A huge global sporting event – the World Cup— takes place in Brazil this summer, attracting millions of travelers from around the world. That adds a new element of risk, increasing the risk of importation of vaccine-preventable diseases into the Americas. In light of the World Cup, VWA will highlight the importance of vaccination to protect the health of the people of the Americas, using slogans like “Vaccination: Your best shot,” and “Go on offense: Get vaccinated!”

Toward a World without Measles

Categories: child health, infectious disease, measles

STOP Measles

Stephen L. Cochi, M.D., M.P.H., Senior Advisor to the Director of the CDC Global Immunization Division (GID)

Stephen L. Cochi, M.D., M.P.H., Senior Advisor to the Director of the CDC Global Immunization Division (GID)

There was a time not so long ago that the thought of measles struck genuine fear in people’s hearts.

It’s easy to understand why. Measles is so contagious that any child exposed to it who’s not already immune is likely to get the disease. Worse still is that measles is hard to avoid, even for the most diligent and cautious parent since it spreads through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing.

And yet, today in many settings the general reaction to measles is a worry-free, nonchalant shrug.

That’s the power – and legacy – of a vaccine introduced 50 years ago today that protected people and especially children from measles and in the process lifted the weight of worry from parents around the world.

Vaccines are rarely splashy or noticed by most people. But the discovery of the measles vaccine being celebrated today is a shining, monumental achievement in the history of public health.

CDC Celebrates the Role of Artwork in Measles Elimination

Categories: child health, immunization, measles

Linda Elsner, Writer/Editor, Global Immunization Division.

Linda Elsner, Writer/Editor, Global Immunization Division.

Acclaimed illustrator Sophie Blackall visited us at CDC on Monday, April 22, to share insights from her extraordinary collaboration with the Measles & Rubella Initiative.  Her presentation at the World Immunization Week symposium, “Let Every Child Have a Name: the Road to a World Without Measles,” described her journey to the Democratic Republic of the Congo where she met and spoke with families and health workers affected by measles.

Protect Your World – Get Vaccinated: World Immunization Week 2013

Categories: child health, health systems strengthening, immunization, measles, polio

Rebecca Martin, PhD, Director, Global Immunization Division

Rebecca Martin, PhD, Director, Global Immunization Division

Every 20 seconds, a child dies from a disease that could be prevented with a safe and effective vaccine. Millions more children survive but are left severely disabled. Vaccines have the power not only to save but also transform lives by protecting against disease—giving children a chance to grow up healthy, go to school, and improve their lives. Vaccination campaigns sometimes provide the only contact with health care services that children receive in their early years of life. 

During World Immunization Week, beginning on 20 April, we at CDC and our partners around the globe aim 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 Week initiatives began in the Region of the Americas in 2003. The Week was observed simultaneously in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) six regions for the first time in 2012, with the participation of more than 180 countries, territories and areas. The World Health Assembly endorsed World Immunization Week during its May 2012 meeting, alongside the Global Vaccine Action Plan

Child Survival Summit: A time to reflect on global progress and challenges ahead

Categories: child health, diarrhea, HIV/AIDS, immunization, malaria, measles, parasitic diseases, women's/maternal health

Dr. Kevin De Cock, Director of Center for Global Health

Dr. Kevin De Cock, Director of Center for Global Health

Improvements in child health are a major focus of the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Targets set for 2015 are rapidly approaching, and, much remains to be done to achieve reductions in child mortality. This week’s Child Survival Call to Action in Washington, DC (June 14-15) will address progress achieved and challenges ahead ( International NGOs, representatives of US Government global health programs, and ministers of health from around the world will gather to discuss strategies to advance child survival goals. 

CDC’s global health programs have contributed significantly to accomplishments related to child survival.  The  breadth and depth of CDC’s expertise in child health stems from both its domestic and global work. With CDC offices in over 40 countries, our strong partnerships with ministries of health are critical to achieve goals associated with child health. 

World Immunization Week, China

Categories: child health, immunization, measles

Jeffrey McFarlandIn celebration of world immunization week, one cannot ignore the great strides China has made to protect over one-fifth of the world’s population from vaccine preventable diseases.  The Chinese government has worked closely with CDC, WHO, UNICEF and other partners as it has addressed this challenge head on with new policies, supplemental immunization activities and successes reaching those most in need of care.  These steps protect not only China’s population from disease, but also protect the U.S. and the rest of the world from the global spread of infectious, vaccine-preventable health threats.

Our New Blog Kicks Off for World Immunization Week 2012!

Categories: child health, immunization, measles, polio

Dr. Kevin De Cock is Director of the CDC Center for Global Health (CGH).

Dr. Kevin De CockMany voices join in the inspirational stories of global health. Today we begin sharing these stories through a new blog we call “Our Global Voices.” Check in often to hear and share in global health stories  from around the world. We invite you to join the conversation on important global health topics. In this blog you’ll interact with CDC’s global health leaders and staff working to improve health and save lives around the world.

We kick off our blog today with the first ever World Immunization Week, observed April 21-28, 2012. Immunization prevents between 2 and 3 million deaths every year worldwide. World Immunization Week is a global event sponsored by the World Health Organization to underscore the importance of immunization in saving lives and to encourage parents to vaccinate their children.

Let me share three reasons why immunization is so important to protecting children and for improving health for all of us.

Immunization works
If ever the term “breakthrough” applies to public health, it applies to immunization. Through this approach we have witnessed extraordinary progress against a host of infectious diseases that caused incalculable suffering and loss throughout most of human history. Today safe and effective vaccinations spare the lives of countless children, and at the same time protect parents and families. Diseases like diphtheria, pertussis, measles, rubella, and polio once swept through communities. Now, most people in developed countries never encounter anyone who’s had any one of these diseases because immunization works so well at preventing or even eradicating them. Some vaccines, like those against human papilloma virus and hepatitis B virus, for example, prevent later complications such as cancer of the liver and cervix, respectively.

Child receiving measles vaccine. Photo credit: C. McNab/Measles Initiative

Child receiving measles vaccine. Photo credit: C. McNab/Measles Initiative

Immunization is possible
CDC, the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are helping countries assure that no fewer than nine out of ten children in every country receive the three-dose diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP3) vaccine by their first birthday. By 2009 coverage reached 82 percent. In January 2012, India marked its first anniversary without a single case of polio.  Successful polio elimination in the world’s second largest country demonstrates, again, that immunization works and immunization is possible.

Immunization is right
The public health tradition upholds the ideal of social justice.  We can attribute the virtual elimination of severe illness and death from childhood diseases in the world’s affluent countries to safe, effective vaccines. Immunization works; its safety and affordability make immunization possible everywhere. But just as measles progress has shown to be fragile in Europe when immunization uptake declines, so it is across much of Africa where weak programs lead to renewed outbreaks and deaths. Measles can then affect unvaccinated individuals and communities in the US. Our commitment to social justice obliges us to recognize that regardless of where they live, children and adults need not suffer from diseases we can and should prevent.  That is the promise and moral obligation of immunization. The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
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