World Immunization Week
Did you know that over 19 million children worldwide are unvaccinated or under-vaccinated? Immunization is still a worldwide concern which must be acted upon to improve the quality of life of every human being and in turn bring about global development.
About the World Immunization Week
The World Immunization Week was first started in 2012 during a World Health Assembly meeting with over 180 countries worldwide participating in the initiative that year. This day is set aside to raise awareness about the importance of getting timely vaccination against vaccine-preventable infectious diseases around the world. It runs through the last week of April.
This year, the purpose of the World Immunization Week Theme; Protected Together, is to push for greater action on immunization around the world, with particular focus on highlighting everyone’s role in this effort from the public, health workers and donors.
Before going into the details of what everyone’s role in immunization accessibility, let us first understand what immunization is and its importance. It may sound like a simple concept; however, most people think of immunization as being the same as vaccination. Is there a difference between these two terms?
Understanding Immunization and Vaccination.
Immunization refers to the process of making a person immune or resistant to an infectious disease by administering a vaccine. Vaccination on the other hand is getting a weakened germ (that can cause a particular disease) and administering it into the body to stimulate the body’s immune system. This enables the body to recognize a disease and protect itself from future infection by producing antibodies that fight the germ. The simple difference between immunization and vaccination is that immunization is what happens to the body once a vaccine has been administered-becoming immune to a particular disease.
Key messages for this year’s World Immunization Week
Everyone has a role to play to see to it that immunization is made more accessible worldwide and especially in places where people lack access to vaccines. Below are the different groups and their role in making this effort a success:
To the public (24th April)
The general public should ensure that their families and communities are vaccinated to enable for us to be protected together. This can be made possible as:
- Vaccines save and improve lives. Did you know that 2-3 million lives are saved annually due to vaccinations?
- Vaccines not only protect people from deadly diseases but also help in other aspects of life such as reducing poverty. Increasing vaccine coverage especially in low and middle-income countries by 2030, could prevent 24 million people from falling into poverty due to health expenses.
To Health Workers (26th April)
Health workers, especially in low income countries, should be on the frontline to fight deadly diseases so as to ensure we remain protected together. This will be possible when:
- They work tirelessly to reach and protect all children against polio which in turn paves way for the most vulnerable children to get access to other health programs. In 2016, for instance, over 62 million children in low income countries were vaccinated and over 185 children got connected to primary health care systems.
- Health workers’ efforts to increase immunization builds the foundation for strong primary health care and is a route towards achieving Universal Health Coverage.
For Donors or Leaders (27th April)
The continued investment of donors towards immunization will ensure that we are all protected together. This is important because:
- Vaccines are one of the most effective health tools that can be invested. Statistics show that out of every $1 spent on immunization, $44 are got back as returns in economic and social benefits.
- Vaccines are crucial towards achieving the global development goals not only in health, but in the growth of other sectors such as economic and social sectors.
Vaccines allow people around the world to live full and healthy lives. Expanding immunization is therefore vital to achieving the sustainable development goals popularly known as the SDGs. Achieving the SDGs, requires building a strong primary health care system which will in turn lead to us realizing the universal health coverage. By so doing, children will have access to health care from infancy all through to adulthood.
Immunization matters now more than ever because it plays a fundamental role in achieving other health priorities which include controlling some viral infections such as hepatitis B, curbing antimicrobial resistance, as well as providing a platform for adolescents’ health and improving antenatal and new-born care.
International Medical Treatment Ltd (IMT), believes in information being the greatest tool to enable people to be in control of their own health. Therefore, on this World Immunization Day, share with your friends and family this important information about immunization. It is our hope that everyone who reads this piece will know their role.
Play your part in making this effort; to create awareness on the need for timely and accessible immunization to make it a global success.