WORLD Immunisation Week – celebrated in the last week of April – aims to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease.
Today is the start of World Immunisation Week.
Immunisation saves millions of lives every year and is widely recognised as one of the world’s most successful and cost-effective health interventions.
Yet, there are still nearly 20 million unvaccinated and under-vaccinated children in the world today.
The theme this year is “Vaccines bring us closer”.
The campaign urges greater engagement around immunisation globally to promote the importance of vaccination in bringing people together and improving the health and wellbeing of everyone, everywhere throughout life.
As part of the 2021 campaign, World Health Organisation, partners and individuals around the world will unite to:
- INCREASE trust and confidence in vaccines to maintain or increase vaccine acceptance; and,
- INCREASE investment in vaccines, including routine immunisation, to remove barriers to access.
While the world focuses on important new vaccines to protect against the Covid-19, there remains a need to ensure routine vaccinations are not missed.
Many children have not been vaccinated during the global pandemic, leaving them at risk of serious diseases such as measles and polio.
Rapidly circulating misinformation around the topic of vaccination adds to this threat.
In this context, this year’s campaign will aim to build solidarity and trust in vaccination as a public good that saves lives and protects health.
Vaccination of children has saved millions of lives and has protected children and public from devastating and preventable diseases throughout the world including thousands of lives in Papua New Guinea.
PNG has one of the lowest immunisation coverage plateauing around 60 per cent for more than a decade and with only less than 50 per cent of all children completing their vaccination by their first birthday.
Immunisation should always be applied at every opportunity at every part of the country by everyone and is the most cost-effective health intervention. Expanding access to immunisation is vital for achieving the sustainable development goals of poverty reduction and universal health coverage.
Routine immunisation provides a point of contact for health care at the beginning of life and offers every child the chance at a healthy life from the earliest beginnings and into old age.
Immunisation is a fundamental strategy in achieving other health priorities, from controlling viral hepatitis, to curbing antimicrobial resistance and providing a platform for adolescent health and improving antenatal and newborn care.
Though vaccines have eradicated many lethal childhood diseases, those diseases can come roaring back if we don’t maintain an immunisation rate of about 90 per cent or higher.
They help protect vaccinated individuals as well as entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases.
In order for everyone everywhere to survive and thrive, PNG should build up all efforts to ensure all people receive the lifesaving benefits of vaccines.
Immunisation protects future generations.
Vaccines have reduced and, in some cases, eliminated many diseases that killed or disabled people just some generations ago.
While vaccines aren’t a silver bullet, they will help us progress on a path to a world where we can be together again.
If we continue vaccinating now, and vaccinating completely, future parents may be able to trust that some diseases of today will no longer be around to harm their children in the future.