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CDC, the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission and PAHO/WHO join the ten border states in a community vaccine drive reaching millions of people

El Paso, TX, April 25, 2011 — Forty-five countries and territories of the Western Hemisphere will reach out to some 41 million children and adults with vaccines against preventable diseases during the 9th annual Vaccination Week in the Americas (VWA), April 23 to 30. This year’s campaign—with the slogan “Vaccinate your family, protect your community” —encourages vaccination not just of children but of entire families and highlights the importance of individual action to protect collective health. 

Health workers, volunteers, government officials and celebrities throughout the Americas are gearing up to participate in what has become the hemisphere’s largest multi-country health effort. The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) is providing leadership and coordination, as it has since the initiative was first launched in 2003.

Vaccination Week in the Americas has reached some 323 million in this hemisphere and is inspiring similar efforts in other regions. Thanks to ongoing global outreach efforts, vaccination weeks are being held simultaneously this year in four other regions besides the Americas: Europe will celebrate its 6th initiative, the Eastern Mediterranean will celebrate its 2nd and the African and Western Pacific regions will celebrate their first-ever vaccination weeks. In total, more than 180 countries and territories worldwide are expected to participate in vaccination week events.

“We have every reason to be proud of Vaccination Week in the Americas,” said PAHO Director Dr. Mirta Roses. “It has not only helped spread the benefits of immunization to people throughout our hemisphere, it has provided a model for what can be achieved with vaccines if we all work together. Given the tremendous momentum, I am confident that next year—on the 10th anniversary of own initiative—we will see the first truly global vaccination week.”

In the United States this same week as the VWA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) since 1994 to focus local and national attention on the importance of immunizing and protecting children 24 months and younger from vaccine-preventable diseases. Since its inception, NIIW has served as a call to parents, caregivers, community leaders, and healthcare providers to participate in activities and recognition events to increase the awareness of immunizing children before their second birthday.

Therefore also this week, the United States-Mexico Border Health Commission (USMBHC), the CDC and the PAHO/WHO U.S.-Mexico Border Office will partner with the ten border states, to bring additional focus during NIIW/VWA to the United States-México border region, for the eight consecutive year, with the participation of the PAHO Deputy Director Dr. Jon Andrus at their inaugural event and presentation at the Immunization Conference on April 27th, 2011.

Tuesday April 26th, 2011
National Infant Immunization Week / Vaccination Week of the Americas
U.S-Mexico Border Inaugural Event
9:00 am to 10:30 am

El Rio Community Health Center
101 W. Irvington Road Tucson, Arizona

(There will be over 60 events in all 10 U.S.-Mexico border states, please see matrix for full list of activities, dates and locations: 
http://www.borderhealth.org/files/res_1752.pdf)

Additional program and technical support for other events and activities being undertaken throughout the border region will be provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the México Secretariat of Health, the PAHO/WHO U.S.-México Border Office, and the ten border state health departments.

The countries of the Americas have been world leaders in eliminating or reducing vaccine-preventable diseases. The region was the first to eradicate smallpox (in 1971) and to eliminate polio (in 1991). The last case of endemic measles in the Americas was reported in 2002, and the last case of endemic rubella in 2009. Diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis have also been significantly reduced, thanks to rates of immunization that average over 93% among children under 1.

Despite these successes, many children in the Americas have not completed their vaccine schedules, and hard-to-reach populations continue to have lower rates of coverage. Vaccination Week in the Americas was launched in 2003 to address those gaps and to protect the region’s hard-won immunization achievements.

“Knowing that my family and I are protected by vaccines gives me true peace of mind,” says singer Ricardo Montaner in a public service announcement (PSA) sent to Spanish-language TV stations around the region. “And that’s what I’d like all of us to do—adults, men, women, teenagers, children, and senior citizens. Go to the nearest health center. That way we’ll have much healthier communities.”

Vaccines being deployed this year provide protection against polio, measles, rubella, mumps, diphtheria, whooping cough, neonatal tetanus, influenza and yellow fever, among other diseases. Many countries are also incorporating other health interventions into their activities, including deworming treatments, vitamin A supplementation, health education, child-growth monitoring and blood pressure screening.

Since its inception nearly a decade ago, Vaccination Week in the Americas has promoted immunization as one of public health’s most cost-effective measures and has helped spread the benefits of immunization to the hemisphere’s most vulnerable populations, including indigenous people, border and isolated communities, and marginalized urban groups. To date, more than 323 million children and adults have been reached within the framework of the initiative.

In addition to PAHO/WHO, other international supporters of Vaccination Week in the Americas 2011 include UNICEF, the Canadian International Development Agency, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Spain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, among others. 

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For more information please contact:
Lorely Ambriz, M.S.I.S
, Knowledge Management & Communication Advisor
Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) / A Regional Office of the World Health Organization (WHO) United States-Mexico Border Office
5400 Suncrest Dr. Ste. C-4  El Paso, TX 79912
Office (915) 845-5950 Ext. 42523 / Cel (915) 449-3040  / Fax  (915) 845-4361
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   / www.borderinfo.org  

 

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