A Brief History Of World Immunization Week
Immunization averts an estimated 2-3 million deaths every year. Diseases such as diphtheria, measles, pertussis, pneumonia, polio, rotavirus diarrhea, rubella and tetanus are provided the best defense. Yet an estimated 22 million infants are not fully immunized with routine vaccines. Hence, the World Health Organization (WHO) hosted an event participated by almost 200 countries in the world this year, to better communicate the health benefits of vaccination and the dangers of not immunizing the children.
World Immunization Week is an annual event celebrating world’s most powerful tools for health which is the use of vaccines to protect or “immunize” people of all ages against diseases. This event is held by World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners. It is usually celebrated in the last week of April every year. This year is only the second in which all six regions of WHO are participants. Every region has adopted a slogan and activities centered on the status quo of their countries. All are serving as an over-arching framework to unite the efforts globally.
However, these worldwide campaigns in the early years were not held in every country. The initiatives were firstly taken in 2002 when measles outbreak in Venezuela and Colombia caused the Andean region to propose a coordinated international vaccination effort to curb any future outbreaks. The official name of the event; the Vaccination Week of Americas or VWA was held in June 2003.
Later in September of the same year, it was accepted as an annual, hemispheric initiative by Directing Council of the Pan American Health Organization with the adoption of Resolution CD44.R1. Since its inception in 2003, more than 410 million individuals of all ages had been vaccinated during campaigns conducted under the framework of VWA. Acting as catalyst to other regions of the World Health Organization to hold their own Vaccination Week.
“Protect your world- get vaccinated” is used globally to promote and encourage individuals and organizations, local or international, public or private sectors to coordinate and engage in activities during the week. However, each country can adopt their own style of promoting the event as each country has their own unique environment.
Hence, what started as an initiative from two countries grew into what is known now as a globally celebrated event. Everyone must play their role to the fullest to promote the use of vaccine especially in infants. We as the front liners in the medical field must also contribute our fullest in ensuring the campaign to reach its objective.
Written by :
Nik Ahmad Hafiz Bin Nik Ahmad Eid
2nd Year, Faculty Of Medicine,
Ain Shams University.