|Vaccination Week in the Americas|
Belize City, 3 May 2011 - Vaccination Week in the Americas (VWA) is an utmost effort endorsed by the Directing Council of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), to strengthen the Expanded Programme on Immunization by reaching populations with limited access to regular services and who are at an increased risk of contracting vaccine preventable diseases. The ninth annual VWA was observed from 23 – 30 April 2011 under the theme “Vaccinate your Family, Protect your Community”In 2002, nineteen countries participated in the first VWA, the primary focus of which was measles elimination. With the implementation of this program, more than 16 million people were vaccinated. This year, the initiative was celebrated by 45 countries and territories, with a regional goal to vaccinate more than 41 million individuals through a variety of campaigns. Additionally, four other Regions of the World Health Organization (WHO) simultaneously celebrated their own sister initiatives. These include the 6th European Immunization Week (EIW), the 2nd Vaccination Week in the Eastern Mediterranean (VWEM) and the first ever vaccination week initiatives in the African and Western Pacific Regions, putting the way towards celebrating a Global Vaccination Week in the near future!As part of the activities for this event, Belize Health Workers visited households and schools in urban and rural communities for the purpose of providing information on vaccines, the diseases that vaccines prevent, and provided children who have not completed their immunization schedule with the necessary vaccines. Public clinics provided information on immunization, and administered vaccines to children who need to be vaccinated for protection against measles, whooping cough, tetanus, and Polio. Seasonal Influenza vaccine was also available for persons with chronic diseases, and persons over 60 years old.The last cases of vaccine preventable diseases occurred as follows: Polio 1981; Diphtheria 1982, Measles 1991, Rubella 2001, Neonatal Tetanus and Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS) 1997, and Whooping Cough in 2008. The Ministry of Health urges all parents and guardians to review their child immunization cards and take them to the nearest public clinic/health center for advice on vaccination. The Pan American Health Organization, which is the Regional Office in the Americas of the World Health Organization, was founded in 1902, and works with all countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of their peoples. The PAHO/WHO Country Office in Belize was established in the 1950s.