This year marks two milestone events in public health: the 10th anniversary of Vaccination Week in the Americas (VWA), and the 1st ever World Immunization Week (WIW). In the Americas, over the last ten years, VWA has grown to become the largest multinational health initiative in the Region, thanks to the political commitment of governments and the dedication of the Region’s health care workers. The objectives of Vaccination Week are: 1) to advance equity and improve access to vaccination for people of all ages through outreach to underserved and marginalized communities; 2) increase vaccination coverage of all antigens to prevent disease outbreaks; 3) raise awareness on how immunization saves lives; 4) to maintain the topic on the political agenda; and 5) to promote the transition from child to family immunization.
More than 365 million children, young people, men, women of childbearing age and older adults have been vaccinated as a result of activities conducted under the framework of VWA over the past nine years. In 2012, under the slogan: For you, for me, for everyone. Get vaccinated, countries and territories have planned to target more than 44 million people across the age spectrum for vaccination against a wide range of diseases; 45 countries and territories in the Region have committed to celebrating this milestone initiative in 2012.
An increasing number of countries use VWA to integrate other preventative health interventions with vaccination campaigns. In 2012, 17 countries and territories have reported plans to integrate activities such as deworming, vitamin A supplements, growth monitoring, cancer screening, distribution of water filters, body mass index screening, and foot care demonstrations for diabetics, as part of the 10th anniversary of VWA.
The launch of the 1st World Immunization Week and the 10th Vaccination Week in the Americas was done under the framework of this year’s Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia on 13-15 April. Other high profile events were held in Port-au- Prince, Haiti on 21 April and on 27 April in a tri-national border area between El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Simultaneously, dozens of 2012 VWA launching events will be carried out throughout the Region, at the local, national and international level.
The success of Vaccination Week in the Americas has served as a model for other Regions of the World Health Organization. The 1st World Immunization Week will be celebrated with the participation of more than 180 countries under the slogan: Protect your world. Get Vaccinated!
Published in Global Immunization Newsletter, April 2012.