Immunization is the process by which a person is made immune or resistant to an infectious disease through the use of a vaccine. It stimulates the body’s own immune system to protect the person against subsequent infection or any kind of disease.
Immunization has been recognised as one of the world’s most successful and cost-effective health interventions, which is known to save millions of lives. Despite that, there are more than 19 million unvaccinated or under-vaccinated children in the world, according to World Health Organisation (WHO). Of these children, 1 out of 10 never receive any vaccinations while others have never been seen by a health system.
Why is World Immunization Week observed
Previously, Immunization Week activities were observed on different dates in different regions of the world. It was only in 2012 that the World Health Assembly supported World Immunization Week and it was observed simultaneously for the first time that year, with the participation of more than 180 countries and territories worldwide.
World Immunization Week is observed every year to encourage donors, doctors and individuals for greater action on immunization around the world. This week also highlights the importance of investing in immunization efforts and why one must urge vaccination progress.
Immunization can protect against 25 different infectious agents or diseases, from infancy to old age, including diphtheria, measles, mumps, yellow fever, pertussis, and tetanus while some of the diseases eradicated by vaccines include smallpox, rinderpest, polio and malaria
The significance of the theme of 2018
According to WHO, this year’s theme — ‘Protected Together, #VaccinesWork’ helps encourage people to put in more efforts to increase immunization coverage for the greater good.
Some of the previous years’ themes were ‘Vaccines Work’ (2017), ‘Close the immunization gap’ (2015-2016), ‘Are you up-to-date?’ (2014), ‘Protect your world – get vaccinated’ (2013) and ‘Immunization saves lives’ (2012).
Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, senior consultant, Internal Medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi says most of the vaccines prevent the diseases from happening. It protects children and adults from infection, thus saving a person’s life.
The Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) – endorsed by 194 Member States of the World Health Assembly in May 2012 – aims to prevent millions of deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases by 2020 through universal access to immunization. Despite improvements in individual countries and a strong global rate of new vaccine introduction, all of the GVAP targets for disease elimination—including measles, rubella, and maternal and neonatal tetanus—are behind schedule.