25 April 2011 — Panama's health system will mobilize some 250 professionals to vaccinate thousands of Panamanian against preventable diseases, during the 9th Vaccination Week in the Americas, which will take place April 23-30 throughout the hemisphere. 

A launching event was held Monday at the Community Health Center of Veracruz, with the participation of Minister of Health Franklin Vergara, First Lady Marta Linares de Martinelli, Ricardo Montaner, Champion of the Health of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and Assistant Director of PAHO/WHO Socorro Gross.

With the slogan "Vaccinate your family, protect your community," the week-long effort will encourage Panamanians to vaccinate not just children, but all members of the family. 

The initiative will also help strengthen Panama's national immunization program, expand coverage among populations with limited access, and reach groups at high risk of diseases. This year, the top priorities for Panama's effort will be vaccination of infants ages 0 to 5 years, school girls aged 10 years, women of childbearing age, older adults and health officials. 

Following the launching event, PAHO/WHO Assistant Director Socorro Gross, Ricardo Montaner, and a group of national authorities visited the headquarters of the Panamanian Institute for Rehabilitation, where they delivered vaccines and also inaugurated a new classroom for general development disorders. Ricardo Montaner cut the inaugural tape. The day ended with a tour of Children's Hospital, Panama's leading national institution for pediatric care.