Protect Your World – Get Vaccinated: World Immunization Week 2013Posted on by
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.
World Immunization Week gives countries and our partners around the world a focused opportunity to raise public awareness of how immunization saves lives – during the same week, every year, in every country. The ultimate goal of World Immunization Week is for more people – and their communities – to be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.
This is the second year that every WHO region will participate in World Immunization Week. Each region has adopted a slogan and activities based on the priorities of its countries:
- African Vaccination Week: Save lives, prevent disabilities, vaccinate!
- European Immunization Week: Protect. Prevent. Immunize.
- Immunization Week in South-East Asia: Keep your family healthy and productive, immunize them
- Immunization Week in the Western Pacific: A healthy future for your family
- Vaccination Week in the Americas: Vaccination, a shared responsibility
- Vaccination Week in the Eastern Mediterranean: Stop measles now!
I am excited that we will have staff participating in the launch of Vaccination Week in the Americas this year in Haiti. In addition to the traditional opening ceremonies, children at the launch will be given their first drops of rotavirus vaccine!
Many countries conduct vaccination campaigns during World Immunization Week. The week is also an opportunity for countries use to introduce vaccines into their national immunization programs for the first time. This year, Somalia will introduce pentavalent vaccine during African Vaccination Week, to protect kids against diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, hepatitis B, and Hib disease (a major cause of pneumonia and meningitis) – all in one shot. Angola and Uganda will introduce pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, protecting kids against pneumonia, which is the top killer of children younger than 5 years worldwide.
In addition to WHO activities, a Global Vaccine Summit will be held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on April 24-25 to coincide with World Immunization Week. This summit will highlight the role that vaccines and immunization systems play in achieving global child health and development goals and will continue the momentum of the Decade of Vaccines. Individuals and institutions with innovative approaches and demonstrated commitment across a broad spectrum of the vaccine enterprise will gather to renew their commitment to children and immunizations. Both I and Dr. Anne Schuchat, Acting Director for the Center for Global Health, are honored to participate.
Immunization is a global health priority for us at CDC focusing on polio eradication, reducing measles deaths, and strengthening immunization systems. We work closely with a wide variety of partners in more than 60 countries to vaccinate children and provide scientific and technical support to ministries of health to strengthen and expand countries’ capacities to sustain, monitor, and evaluate their national immunization programs.
Here at CDC, we are thrilled to welcome acclaimed illustrator Sophie Blackall to our campus. We will exhibit Let Every Child Have a Name: The Road to a World without Measles, a series of artworks inspired by Sophie’s trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where she met and spoke with families and health workers affected by measles during her trip with a vaccination team in May 2012. Her journey and the resulting illustrations are organized and sponsored by the founding partners of the Measles & Rubella Initiative, whose members work to eliminate measles, rubella and congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). We are pleased to host members of the American Red Cross and the Lions Club, who are some of our partners in the Measles & Rubella Initiative.
World Immunization Week is a time to celebrate the gifts of tomorrow that protecting against vaccine-preventable diseases can bring. It is a time to recognize the invaluable work of all health care workers to bring the gift of vaccination to children around the world.
For more information on CDC’s role in global immunization, visit http://www.cdc.gov/globalhealth/immunization/. To learn about National Infant Immunization Week in the United States, visit National Infant Immunization Week (US).