To underscore the importance of immunization in saving lives, and to encourage families to vaccinate their children against deadly diseases WHO is uniting countries across the globe for a week of vaccination campaigns, public education and information sharing under the umbrella of World Immunization Week (21-28 April).
1. Immunization prevents between 2-3 million deaths every year
Immunization prevents deaths every year in all age groups from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), and measles. It is one of the most successful and cost-effective public health interventions.
2. More children than ever are being reached with immunization
In 2010, an estimated 109 million children under the age of one were vaccinated with three doses of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP3) vaccine. These children are protected against infectious diseases that can have serious consequences like illness, disability or death.
3. An estimated 19.3 million children under the age of one did not receive DTP3 vaccine
Seventy percent of these children live in ten countries, and more than half of them live in WHO’s Africa and South-East Asia regions.
4. Over 1 million infants and young children die every year from pneumococcal disease and rotavirus diarrhoea
A large number of these deaths can be prevented through vaccination.
5. Public-private partnerships facilitate the development and introduction of vaccines
For example, a new vaccine which prevents the primary cause of epidemic meningitis in sub-Saharan Africa, meningococcal A, MenAfriVac, was introduced in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger last year. At the end of 2011. Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria are vaccinating more than 22 million individuals with the vaccine which has the potential to eliminate the leading cause of meningitis epidemics in Africa.
6. The supply of influenza vaccines has been significantly expanded
The expansion has been possible as a result of WHO supporting the efforts of vaccine manufacturers to produce and license influenza vaccines in 11 developing countries.
7. Global measles mortality has declined by 78%
Global measles mortality has been reduced from an estimated 733 000 deaths in 2000 to 164 000 deaths in 2008, thanks to intensified vaccination campaigns.
8. Polio incidence has been reduced by 99%
Since 1988, polio incidence has fallen by 99%, from more than 350 000 cases to 1410 cases in 2010. Only four countries remain endemic – Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan – down from more than 125 countries in 1988. However, India was recently taken off the polio endemic list after a zero-polio year.
9. Annual deaths from neonatal tetanus have fallen
Neonatal tetanus deaths have declined to an estimated 59 000, down from 790 000 deaths in 1988.
10. Immunization provides an opportunity to deliver other life-saving measures
Immunization not only protects children from vaccine-preventable diseases. It also serves as an opportunity to deliver other life-saving measures, such as vitamin A supplements to prevent malnutrition, insecticide-treated nets for protection against malaria and deworming medicine for intestinal worms. In addition, the benefits of immunization are increasingly being extended across the life course to include adolescents and adults, providing protection against life-threatening diseases such as influenza, meningitis, and cancers that occur in adulthood.
Content Source: WHO