Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals

World Immunization Week 2012

Global attention on immunization

World Immunization Week, which takes places from 21-28 April, is an opportunity to underscore the importance of immunization in saving lives and to encourage families to vaccinate their children against deadly diseases. Through its convening power, WHO works with countries across the globe to raise awareness of the value of vaccines and immunization and ensures that governments obtain the necessary guidance and technical support to implement high quality immunization programmes.

This worldwide collaboration provides an opportunity to boost momentum and focus on specific actions such as:

  • raising awareness on how immunization saves lives;
  • increasing vaccination coverage to prevent disease outbreaks;
  • reaching underserved and marginalized communities ― particularly those living in remote areas, deprived urban settings, fragile states and strife-torn regions ― with existing and newly available vaccines; and
  • reinforcing the medium- and long-term benefits of immunization, giving children a chance to grow up healthy, go to school and improve their life prospects.

Benefits of immunization

Immunization is one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions and prevents between 2 and 3 million deaths every year. From infants to senior citizens, immunization prevents debilitating illness, disability and death from vaccine-preventable diseases such as diphtheria, hepatitis A and B, measles, mumps, pneumococcal disease, polio, rotavirus diarrhoea, tetanus and yellow fever. The benefits of immunization are increasingly being extended to adolescents and adults, providing protection against life-threatening diseases such as influenza, meningitis, and cancers (e.g. cervical and liver cancers) that occur in adulthood.

Ironically, the fact that immunization has made many infectious diseases rare or almost unheard of can lead to the opinion among parents and health professionals that immunization is no longer necessary. Due to gaps in vaccination coverage, diseases like diphtheria, measles and polio are making a comeback. Disease outbreaks affect everyone.

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