European Immunisation Week
Next week marks European Immunisation Week 2017. So we thought we would take look at what makes immunisation so important, and who is involved in the great awareness raising event.
Why is immunisation so important?
The widespread implementation of immunisation programmes over the past 30 years has led to a dramatic reduction in illness and death due to vaccine-preventable diseases. The WHO European Region was certified polio-free in 2002 and measles cases in the Region were reduced by more than 90% between 1993 and 2007.
However, more needs to be done. Nearly 650 000 of the 10.7 million infants born each year in the European Region do not receive the complete three-dose series of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine by age one; and vulnerable populations exist in all countries. Ironically, the fact that immunisation has made many infectious diseases rare or almost unheard of can lead to the opinion among parents and health professionals that vaccines are no longer necessary. This can make public confidence in vaccines susceptible to the influence of anti-vaccination groups and websites.
Strong political support for immunisation must be maintained or the Region risks the re-emergence of highly contagious diseases, causing illness, disability and death, and placing a considerable burden on health care systems and parents. Recent outbreaks emphasise the regional responsibility we all share to keep vaccinepreventable diseases under control.
Immunisation saves millions of lives every year and this public health success story must be sustained. Countries across the Region need to urgently provide accurate, balanced and understandable information about the risks of diseases and the benefits of vaccination. By acknowledging that every child deserves a healthy start in life, countries can use the momentum of European Immunisation Week to increase awareness of the importance of immunisation and to strengthen their immunisation systems.
Who is involved?
European Immunisation Week is a Region-wide initiative, led and coordinated by the WHO Regional Office for Europe in collaboration with key stakeholders in the Region. It takes place annually during April. The first EIW took place in 2005.
Countries from across the Region are actively engaged in European Immunisation Week (EIW), using the initiative to highlight immunisation through targeted advocacy and communication activities, as well as by immunising high-risk groups.
A range of important immunisation partners support this initiative and provide countries with assistance for the implementation of activities at the national and sub-national level, including associations of health professionals, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society organisations.
Content provided by the World Health Organisation