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World Immunization Week – celebrated in the last week of April (24-30) - aims to promote one of the world’s most powerful tools for health – the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease.  The theme for 2014 is “Are you up-to-date?”

Protection throughout life

Immunization is widely recognized as one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions ever introduced. It prevents between 2 and 3 million deaths every year and now protects children not only against diseases for which vaccines have been available for many years, such as diphtheria, tetanus, polio and measles, but also against diseases such as pneumonia and rotavirus diarrhoea, two of the biggest killers of children under 5. Furthermore, adolescents and adults can now be protected against life-threatening diseases such as influenza, meningitis, and cancers (cervical and liver cancers), thanks to new and sophisticated vaccines.

Despite this success, 1 in 5 children are still missing out. In 2012 an estimated 22.6 million infants were not reached with routine immunization services. More than half of these children live in just 3 countries: India, Indonesia and Nigeria. Inadequate supply of vaccines, lack of access to health workers, and insufficient political and financial support account for a large proportion of people who start but don’t finish national immunization schedules. A lack of knowledge about vaccination, on the other hand, is one of the key reasons why adults consciously choose not to get vaccinated themselves or to vaccinate their children.

Are you up-to-date?

This year’s World Immunization Week campaign seeks to address the knowledge gap which can prevent people from getting vaccinated.

Specific goals are for people around the world to:

  • know what vaccines are available to protect against disease;
  • be motivated to check the vaccination status of themselves and their families; and
  • get the vaccines they need from their local health practitioner.

Increasing public understanding of the benefits of vaccination is a key objective of the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP), which provides the framework for immunization efforts across the world and was endorsed by the World Health Assembly in 2012. The Plan aims to improve health by extending by 2020 and beyond the full benefits of immunization to all people, regardless of where they are born, who they are, or where they live.

Use of mobile and Internet technologies are encouraged as an alternative to or in addition to poster campaigns and events such as public information sessions and media workshops. 

See more inforamtion about World Immunization Week