World Immunization Week 2019

Updates from the CDC Center for Global Health

April 24, 2019

Dear Colleagues,

World Immunization Week (April 24th – 30th) is an excellent opportunity to raise awareness about the life-saving power of vaccines. We celebrate the power of vaccines to save lives and honor those heroes who have risked and lost their lives while working to promote and deliver vaccines to protect the most vulnerable.

We have made vast global progress in reaching children with immunizations. Since 2010, 113 countries have introduced new vaccines and more than 20 million additional children have been vaccinated for the first time. In 2017, more than 116 million children were vaccinated, the highest ever reported. Despite these gains, the eradication of polio and disease elimination targets for measles, rubella, and maternal and neonatal tetanus have not been achieved. Countries once free of measles are now experiencing a high resurgence of measles cases. Outbreaks of measles, diphtheria and other vaccine-preventable diseases have also increased globally in the past several years. Safe and effective vaccines are available to prevent such outbreaks. The unfortunate reality is that it is the failure to vaccinate that places fragile eradication and elimination gains in disease control at risk and not the failure of these vaccines to work. This year’s theme –Protected Together #VaccinesWork focuses on celebrating vaccine heroes. Vaccine heroes’ include: parents and community members who are committed to ensuring that children receive vaccines; tireless health workers who go the extra mile to reach every child in their communities; and innovators who help ensure we are all protected through vaccines.

Health workers are heroically reaching refugees, immigrants, and minorities who are facing discrimination, conflict and violence, poverty and humanitarian crises globally. These health workers provide vaccines, and link communities to other essential services. Parents are vaccination heroes when they travel long distances to seek vaccination for their children, challenge opposition from family members, and deviate from traditional migration routes to have their children vaccinated and their communities protected.

Community health advocates are also heroes that play a major role in increasing understanding, acceptance, and participation in global vaccination programs. They translate science, culture, religion, and traditions in order to protect the children in a community. Community health advocates develop, and tailor their approaches to avoid ostracizing or labeling anyone, maintain the flow of communication with all community members, and bridge differences wisely and compassionately.

Heroes in innovation undertake new challenges and take on unresolved immunization issues. They design the next level of vaccine delivery devices to reach more children and are working to effectively deliver vaccines even to remote areas. Innovators change mindsets to broaden partnerships, improve and strengthen immunization services in both the public and private sectors, and strengthen health systems to deliver vaccinations. Innovation heroes also work with policymakers and parliamentarians to create and promote legislation to fund and sustain immunization programs and include vaccination checks in childcare and school settings.

All of these heroes have many reasons to celebrate during this year’s World Immunization Week. CDC joins with them in a mutual commitment to continue working hard to protect more children against vaccine preventable diseases. Even in the face of old and new challenges, we remain determined to succeed. The prize is rewarding and priceless — happy and healthy children, families, and communities across the world. We stand ready to achieve present and future goals of disease control, elimination and eradication. Let us continue our efforts to get protected together because vaccines work!

/Rebecca Martin/
Rebecca Martin, PhD
Director, Center for Global Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

/W. William Schluter/
W. William Schluter, MD, MSPH
Director, Global Immunization Division
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Page last reviewed: April 24, 2019
Content source: Global Health