Background: In 2002, prompted by a measles outbreak in Venezuela and Colombia, the health ministers of countries in the Andean region propose an annual Vaccination Week in the Americas to help prevent such future outbreaks. In the 8 years since VWA was first implemented, over 288 million people have been vaccinated against a wide range of vaccine preventable diseases such as measles, rubella, yellow fever, diphtheria, tetanus, polio, and influenza, as a result of the initiative. Multiple VWA social mobilization campaigns throughout the region have also been undertaken and the initiative has received ever increasing political support.
To access more information on each year's Vaccination Week activities, click on the year.
2003: In September, Vaccination Week in the Americas is accepted as an annual, hemispheric initiative, by the Directing Council of the Pan American Health Organization, with the adoption of Resolution CD44.R1. The principles underlying Vaccination Week in the Americas are equity, access, and Pan-Americanism. Nineteen countries participate in the first VWA, the primary focus of which is measles elimination. With the implementation of this program, more than 16 million people are vaccinated.
2004: Twenty-three countries participate in the second annual VWA. The focus for 2004 consists of follow-up campaigns against measles, elimination of rubella and CRS, and the vaccination of older adults. Over 43 million people are vaccinated in the second year of the VWA campaign.
2005: The third VWA emphasizes the vaccination of indigenous peoples and older adults, rubella elimination campaigns, the strengthening of regular immunization programs and the introduction of new vaccines. During this campaign, more than 38 million people are vaccinated in the Region. Drawing inspiration from the activities in the Americas, European Immunization Week (EIW) launches in October 2005 and focuses primarily on social communication activities.
2006: In its fourth year, VWA activities highlight the transition from child to family immunization programs, the strengthening of regular immunization programs, influenza, rubella elimination and the introduction of new vaccines. Over 49 million people are vaccinated during the 2006 campaign.
In June 2006, the PAHO Executive Committee confirms the organization's commitment to VWA by recommending that the PAHO Directing Council adopt resolution CE138.R4, which would urge member states to continue to support and expand vaccination efforts, including the yearly celebration of Vaccination Week in the Americas.
2007: Forty-five countries and territories participate in Vaccination Week in the Americas, the highest total thus far in the history of the initiative. More than 47 million individuals are vaccinated as a result of the week's initiatives which work to strengthen border coordination, reach isolated populations, strengthen routine programs and advance the control of yellow fever and hepatitis B, among other goals.
2008: The sixth annual VWA involves the participation of 45 countries and territories in the Region. Multiple VWA launching events take place along binational and trinational borders throughout the Region with the participation of high-ranking authorities under the framework of a Health Caravan. Diverse vaccination campaigns take place as part of the week, including multiple measles/rubella elimination campaigns, focused primarily in Central America. More than 59 million individuals are vaccinated through such efforts.
2009: The seventh annual VWA emphasizes the importance of family vaccination as well as the vaccination of health workers. Multiple launching events are held throughout the Region, including a series of events in the South American Chaco, the border area shared by Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay and one of the transnational priority areas as identified by the Pan American Alliance for Nutrition and Development.
2010: Set to begin on April 24 until May1, VWA 2010 will focus on reaching everyone, especially vulnerable populations. Multiple launching events are being planned, including one on the border of Honduras and Nicaragua and another on the Suriname/French Guiana border. The latter event will be the first ever bi-Regional launching event, linking both VWA and EIW. EMRO Region of WHO is also planning to pilot its own vaccination week in 2010, simultaneously with VWA and EIW, moving one step closer to the future goal of a Global Vaccination Week.