World Immunization Week – celebrated in the last week of April (24 to 30 April) – aims to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease. Immunization saves millions of lives every year and is widely recognized as one of the world’s most successful and cost-effective health interventions. Yet, there are still nearly 20 million children in the world today who are not getting the vaccines they need.
The theme this year is #VaccinesWork for All and the campaign will focus on how vaccines – and the people who develop, deliver and receive them – are heroes by working to protect the health of everyone, everywhere.
In 2018, an estimated 116 million children were vaccinated with received 3 doses of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP3) vaccine, protecting them against infectious diseases that can cause serious illness and disability or be fatal. Many low- and middle-income countries have taken huge strides in increasing immunization coverage.
But despite gains, all targets for disease elimination – including measles, rubella and maternal and neonatal tetanus – are unlikely to be achieved by the end of 2020. Over the last two years, the world has seen multiple outbreaks of measles, diphtheria, pertussis and other vaccine-preventable diseases.
For everyone, everywhere to survive and thrive, countries must intensify efforts to ensure all people receive the lifesaving benefits of vaccines. Additionally, those countries that have achieved or made progress towards the goals must work to sustain the progress they have made.
“Vaccines are one of our most important tools for preventing outbreaks and keeping the world safe. While most children today are being vaccinated, far too many are left behind. Unacceptably, it’s often those who are most at risk– the poorest, the most marginalized, those touched by conflict or forced from their homes – who are persistently missed.”
– Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization
The main goal of the campaign is to urge greater engagement around immunization globally and the importance of vaccination in improving health and wellbeing of everyone, everywhere throughout life.
As part of the 2020 campaign, WHO and partners aim to:
Given that WHO has designated 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, WHO will highlight nurses and midwives for their crucial role as early vaccine champions for new parents and parents-to-be.
Expanding access to immunization is vital for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, poverty reduction and universal health coverage. Routine immunization 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 earliest beginnings and into old age.
Immunization is also a fundamental strategy in achieving other health priorities, from controlling viral hepatitis, to curbing antimicrobial resistance, and providing a platform for adolescent health and improving antenatal and newborn care.