The border between Peru and Bolivia was the site of a binational launch today for the 9th annual Vaccination Week in the Americas. Amid festivities that included folk dances, PAHO Director Dr. Mirta Roses kicked off this year's initiative, whose slogan is , whose slogan is "Vaccine to your family, protects your community."

The launch was held at the Per-Bolivia border crossing of Kasani, some 10 minutes from Yunguyo, in Peru's Puno department, and 20 minutes from Copacabana, in Bolivia's Macno Capac department.

Dr. Roses noted that since the inception of Vaccination Week of the Americas in 2003, more than 323 million people have been vaccinated against measles, rubella, polio, hepatitis B, influenza, diphtheria and tetanus, among other diseases.

"Vaccines have made it possible to prevent many deaths and disabling diseases—deafness, blindness and mental health problems—that can hold back the development of people and societies," she said. "Vaccines are a marvelous gift of science. Let us enjoy vaccination as it gets going in these two countries, because is a right of the people."

"Vaccination Week in the Americas began nine years ago as a marvelous challenge, that of vaccinating our children," she continued. "We are committed to ensuring the right to vaccination and that the necessary resources are allocated so that we continue to make progress."

"From here, facing Lake Titicaca, we have the potential to mobilize the entire world. This place is marvelous and very symbolic because it is the summit of our America. From here we make an appeal about the importance of continuing to vaccinate, for the health and lives of everyone. Vaccination is the right of every family and an essential tool for preventing many devastating diseases. During its nine-year history in the Region of the Americas, Vaccination Week has become a key initiative to emphasize the extraordinary importance of vaccination for to public health," said Dr. Roses.

Vice Minister of Health of Peru Zarela Solís said, "Vaccination represents an act of love to protect children and to give life. Health care is everyone's job. Long live Peru, long live Bolivia, long live Vaccination Week in the Americas!"

Vaccination Week in the Americas was first held in 2003, an initiative of the ministers of health of the Andean region in response to a measles outbreak in Colombia and Venezuela. Today, with the support and participation of PAHO member countries in the Americas it has expanded its goal of reaching the most vulnerable and remote communities, including indigenous groups, people that live in border areas and geographically isolated communities.

Vaccination Week in the Americas this year coincides with National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) in the United States, National Immunization Awareness Week in Canada (NIAW), the sixth European Immunization Week (EIW), the second Vaccination Week in the Eastern Mediterranean (VWEM) and the first vaccination weeks in the regions of Africa and the Western Pacific.

As a technical cooperation agency, PAHO supports its member countries in organizing and carrying out Vaccination Week in the Americas, through planning, resource mobilization, social media campaigns, procurement of vaccines and medical supplies, and evaluation of activities.

Other participants in today's launch included municipal officials from Yunguyo and Copacabana, PAHO/WHO Representative in Peru Dr. Luis Fernando Leanes, and Bolivia's Minister of Health and Sports, Dr. Nila Heredia, as well as representatives of United Nations agencies, government ministries, and local border communities.

Press contact:  Inés Calderón -  PAHO/WHO Communication Consultant -  319-5778, 99351-7660