The last week of April (24th -30th) each year is marked by WHO and partners as World Immunization Week. It aims to accelerate action to increase awareness and demand for immunization and improve vaccination delivery services so that people everywhere can be protected against deadly diseases.
In 2016, under the global slogan “Close the immunization gap”, the campaign focused on immunization for all throughout life. .More than 180 countries, territories and areas marked the week with activities including vaccination campaigns, training workshops, round-table discussions and public information campaigns. The theme for World Immunization Week 2017 is #VaccinesWork.
Expanding access to immunization is crucial to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Not only do vaccinations prevent the suffering and death associated with infectious diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, whooping cough, measles, and polio, they also help enable national priorities like education and economic development to take hold.
The unique value of vaccines was the driving force behind the Global Vaccine Action Plan, a framework to prevent millions of deaths by vaccine-preventable diseases by 2020. The plan aims to strengthen routine immunization; accelerate control of vaccine-preventable diseases with polio eradication as the first milestone; introduce new vaccines and spur research and development for the next generation of vaccines and technologies.
Immunization averts an estimated 2 to 3 million deaths every year from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), and measles; however, an additional 1.5 million deaths could be avoided if global vaccination coverage improves. Global vaccination coverage – the proportion of the world’s children who receive recommended vaccines – has remained steady for the past few years.
During 2015, about 86% (116 million) of infants worldwide received 3 doses of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP3) vaccine, protecting them against infectious diseases that can cause serious illness and disability or be fatal. By 2015, 126 countries had reached at least 90% coverage of DTP3 vaccine.