April 27, 2012
Washington, April 27, 2012 -- Health workers are walking, pedaling bicycles, driving cars, rowing boats and riding horses to reach remote areas, urban fringes and displaced communities, where they are giving vaccines against diseases like measles and polio as part of the first World Immunization Week taking place in 180 countries this week.
Vaccination Week was launched 10 years ago in the Americas, and other WHO Regions soon began to adapt it, culminating in this year’s global effort. Although it’s not a substitute for traditional vaccination, the week helps draw attention to the importance of immunization and the need to expand the reach of both traditional and new vaccines. Activities are not limited to the introduction of newly available vaccines into national immunization programs; they also include training, workshops, and roundtable discussions with political decision-makers, medical professionals, parents and care givers
The week is also a good lead-in to the new Global Vaccine Action Plan, which aims to achieve vital goals in research, development and delivery of vaccines, and in global access and public support, targeting the world's most needy populations. This plan is on the agenda for the 2012 World Health Assembly in May.
It is part of the new Decade of Vaccines Collaboration to extend the full benefits of immunization to all people, regardless of where they are born, who they are, or where they live. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, GAVI Alliance and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease are all key participants in this effort to avert deaths and expand immunization in low and middle income countries.