Vaccination week in the Western Pacific Region
Significant progress has been made in improving immunization rates in the Western Pacific. The Region has remained poliomyelitis-free despite the continued threat of wild poliovirus importations from other places in the world. Routine and supplementary immunization activities have reduced the number of reported measles cases by 96% from 3,381,826 in 1974 to 145,747 in 2008; and 25 countries and areas have either eliminated or nearly eliminated measles ahead of the 2012 goal. The Western Pacific Region was the first WHO Region to include infant hepatitis B immunization in the National Immunization Programmes of all its Member States. The target chronic hepatitis B infection rate of less than 2% among five-year old children likely has been reached by 26 countries and areas, comprising 87% of the Region’s population. Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus (MNT) has been eliminated in all but five countries of the Region. However, there is still much work to be done.
Several million children are not yet properly reached and adequately immunized. Every day thousands of babies are born and each in need of vaccine protection from diseases. Thousands of lives are in jeopardy from vaccine-preventable diseases, and hundreds of thousands of dollars are being spent on the care of disease stricken children whose illnesses could have been avoided. Regional, national and community organizations and health services agencies can play an important role in ensuring that all children and women in the region are immunized, as appropriate. Healthcare providers at all levels need to actively communicate with parents, caregivers and communities about the benefits of immunization.
Parents and caregivers need to know how their children can be protected against many childhood diseases. During Vaccination Week, efforts are made around the world to increase awareness of the importance of immunization and to achieve immunization goals.
Vaccination Week is an event that highlights the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases, celebrates the achievements of immunization programs and their partners in promoting healthy communities. In 2010, the World Health Organization's American Region (AMR), Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) and the European Region (EUR), and many other countries around the world observed vaccination week from 24 April to 1 May in a call to action to ensure that infants around the world are fully immunized. Events included vaccination, social mobilization and media campaigns, proclamations by high ranking officials and advocacy meetings among others.
Vaccination Week provides an opportunity to:
- Educate parents and caregivers about the importance of vaccination in protecting their children from birth and onwards against vaccine-preventable diseases.
- Focus attention on immunization achievements and celebrate the accomplishments made possible through successful collaboration
- Revitalize efforts to protect children against vaccine-preventable diseases and give them a healthy start in life
- Create events that attract community and media to increase the number and visibility of national and local media stories on infant immunization
- Recognize local partners and volunteers for their year-round efforts helping to raise childhood immunization coverage, with special emphasis on completing the vaccination series
- Open doors for resource mobilization activities at the local, national and regional level