30 April 2023
Every year World Immunization Week is celebrated in the last week of April (24th to 30th April) to spread awareness about the benefits of vaccination and how they protect people of all ages against many diseases, giving us the opportunity to pursue a healthy life.
Dr Sunil Kumar Agrawal, Senior Consultant and Head, Paediatrics & Neonatology, Fortis Hospital Mohali, in an advisory issued today to commemorate the World Immunization Week stressed on the need for immunization during childhood.
Vaccines Save Lives and Protect Health
Dr. Agrawal said, Immunization is a key component of primary health care and is one of the best investments to make in support of a healthier and safer world. We have vaccines to prevent more than 20 life-threatening diseases, helping people of all ages live longer, healthier lives. Childhood vaccinations save an estimated 4 million lives worldwide every year. From 2000-2021, measles vaccines saved an estimated 56 million lives. Polio vaccines have prevented paralysis in an estimated 20 million people since 1988.
No Child Should Miss a Lifesaving Vaccine
But this year we are facing a difficult challenge, said Dr. Agrawal, adding. “With three years of pandemic-related disruptions to vital health services and strained health systems, the world lost 30 years of progress to protect children with routine immunizations. In every region of the world, outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles, polio, and diphtheria are rising. In 2021, 25 million children missed at least one routine vaccine, and 18 million received no vaccines at all. Global coverage of the third dose of the diphtheria–tetanus–pertussis vaccine fell from 86% in 2019 to 81% in 2021. To prevent further setbacks, World Immunization Week 2023, with the theme “The Big Catch-Up”, calls for a catch-up to return to pre-pandemic vaccination levels and wished for no child should be denied the right to a lifesaving vaccine.
2023 is our global opportunity to catch-up on lost progress in essential immunization. We need to reach the millions of children who missed out on vaccines, restore essential immunization coverage to at least 2019 levels, strengthen primary health care to deliver immunization and build lasting protection in communities and countries.
As part of the 2023 campaign, WHO, 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 immunization, to remove barriers to access
While the world remains focused on critically important vaccines and vaccination programs to protect communities and populations against COVID-19 and its variants, 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 like measles and polio. Rapidly circulating misinformation around the topic of vaccination adds to this threat, Dr. Agrawal said.