The book: Vaccination: An Act of Love - 10 years of Vaccination Week in the Americas was presented this afternoon at the 28th Pan American Sanitary Conference.
PAHO Director Emeritus Sir George Alleyne said, "Vaccination Week in the Americas has become the largest multinational health initiative in the Western Hemisphere." It has been instrumental in putting immunization on the political agenda by involving presidents, first ladies, other authorities and celebrities from throughout the Americas in its activities. The new book highlights those activities and pays homage to health workers throughout the Region who have made the 10-year-old initiative possible.
"The work is not finished," said Dr. Alleyne, calling on ministers of health "to ensure that the tree that was planted in 2003 keeps growing" every year. "Let us never allow the world to forget this celebration, which is an act of love. Vaccination is an act of love.
"Minister of Health of Barbados Donville Inniss noted that Vaccination Week in the Americas had inspired similar initiatives in every other WHO region and had helped consolidate this Region's many immunization achievements. "But we cannot rest on our laurels. Every child, every adult must be vaccinated as part of their basic human rights. The battle must go on," said Inniss.
More than 365 million people of all ages have been vaccinated over the past decade in campaigns carried out as part of Vaccination Week in the Americas. PAHO/WHO has supported the initiative since 2003, when it was first launched. Thanks to outreach efforts by its supporters, this year all WHO regions joined together to celebrate the first World Immunization Week.
The countries of the Americas have been world leaders in the elimination and control of vaccine-preventable diseases. The Region was the first to eradicate smallpox (in 1971) and polio (1991). The last endemic case of measles was reported in 2002 and the last endemic case of rubella in 2009.