World Immunization week 2019
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World Immunization Week 2019

At the end of April each year, the healthcare community celebrates World Immunization Week. It’s an opportunity to promote the vaccination agenda around the world. At the same time, it’s a chance to reflect on how far the world has come in preventing diseases and improving human health.

What is World Immunization Week 2019?

World Immunization Week is an essential part of the global health agenda. It focuses on promoting the immunization agenda around the world. The day has three specific goals. Firstly, it looks to raise awareness of how vaccines positively impact the health of children and communities.

Secondly, World Immunization Week builds knowledge of how routine vaccinations are part of a healthy global system across the world. And finally, it highlights how far we have come in preventing diseases, while also shedding light on the gaps that persist.

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Why is immunization important?

Thanks to vaccines, 2 to 3 million deaths can be avoided each year. That is a considerable healthcare outcome. And besides saving lives, immunization can also help to lift disease burden from healthcare systems. Thus, it allows healthcare facilities to focus on other patients, which is crucial.

Thus far, there are 26 vaccine-preventable diseases. And overall, immunization coverage has risen dramatically over the last decades. However, one in ten children around the world does not receive any vaccines. These children are at risk of contracting preventable diseases.

Immunization around the world

In 2017, the world immunized the highest number of children ever reported – 116.2 million. At the same time, 113 countries introduced new vaccines over the past ten years. World Immunization Week is an opportunity to celebrate these incredible gains of the global healthcare system.

However, it is also a week to reflect on the many improvements can still be made in the area of immunization. For example, the agenda for eliminating diseases such as measles, rubella, and tetanus are still behind. And this is mostly due to the lack of access to immunization due to poverty or conflict.

Protected Together: Vaccines Work

This year’s theme for the World Immunization Week is Protected Together: Vaccines Work. The idea reflects some vaccination-related issues in global health.

First of all, it speaks to the need for community mobilization around immunization. As such, the World Health Organization (WHO) has shared several community stories of immunization heroes around the world. Get to know the stories on WHO’s campaign page.

On the other hand, Protected Together: Vaccines Work refers to a fundamental question of herd immunity and immunization. Herd immunity is the point where the entire population is safe from a disease due to most people having the vaccine. Usually, this is anywhere between 83 and 94 percent of the population.

Unfortunately, herd immunity is not possible when not everyone has access to vaccines or chooses not to administer them. So, this year’s campaign centers on the communal nature of immunization to ensure not only the prevention but also the eradication of diseases.

Immunization Resources for Humanitarians

Humanitarian Organizations Working on Immunization

Dozens of organizations around the world promote and implement vaccination campaigns. Here are four of these incredible humanitarian organizations.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The Gates Foundation is advancing the immunization agenda through strategic partnership and collaboration. The Foundation is working with national governments and advocacy efforts. The foundation also works on delivering vaccines and generating data to support vaccination efforts.  

Rockefeller Foundation

Since 1985, the Rockefeller Foundation has been working towards universal immunization for children. The organization partners and funds vaccine initiatives around the world.

Taskforce for Global Health

The Taskforce for Global Health runs the Center for Vaccine Equity. The organization’s focus is on equitable access to vaccines, no matter the socioeconomic status. The Center for Vaccine Equity works explicitly in three areas. These are Influenza and Pandemic Response; Polio Eradication Support Center; and Immunization Advocacy & Education.

UNICEF

UNICEF addresses five specific issues surrounding vaccination around the world. Firstly, they are targeting to reach every child and every community across the globe. Secondly, UNICEF is working on improving the supply-chain for vaccines. Thirdly, the organization has the goal of ensuring access to vaccines in terms of pricing and supply.

Finally, UNICEF works on innovation and disease eradication. Their goal is to support research in immunization and promote the agenda on disease eradication.

Promote immunization and global health

Want to be part of the World Immunization Week and help usher global health into an era where preventable diseases are no longer an issue? Then spread the word and participate!

The World Health Organization has a campaign toolkit that allows anyone to share key messages about immunization. You can also access the social media toolkit by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. In either case, you can be at the forefront of promoting immunization and ensuring access to vaccines for the most vulnerable.

Vaccines are not only helpful in preventing diseases. They can even be the key to eradicating illnesses, as global smallpox eradication has shown. But for this, the world needs to unite in pushing the global immunization agenda forward. And this means, inclusion for everyone.

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