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WHO Says It’s Time to Get Essential Immunizations Back On Track



Vaccines have been saving lives since 1796. During World Immunization Week, which is celebrated every year during the last week of April, we highlight the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease. The goal of World Immunization Week is for more people to be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.

The World Health Organization (WHO) works across the globe to raise awareness of the value of vaccines and immunization and ensures that governments obtain the necessary guidance to implement high-quality immunization programs. 

According to the WHO, vaccines provide everyone the chance to live and pursue a life well-lived. 

  • Ever since the first vaccine was developed for smallpox in 1796, the world has seen their unparalleled impact on health and wellbeing. People around the world have been getting vaccinated for centuries, leading to the eradication of smallpox and driving down wild polio cases to an all-time low.

  • Parents can worry less about their children suffering from devastating diseases that once plagued past generations because of vaccines. For the past two decades, more 2 than 1.1 billion children were immunized, saving 4-5 million lives each year and helping to reduce child deaths by half.

  • Vaccines are one of the most impactful scientific innovations of all time, helping to protect generations of people against infectious diseases throughout the course of their lives. A culmination of over 200 years of research, worldwide collaboration and rigorous testing has led to the development of safe and effective vaccines for more than 25 diseases.

This year, the WHO emphasizes that the World Immunization Week campaign comes at an especially critical time as the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted essential health services, setting back progress by more than a decade. Unfortunately, millions of people are still missing out on the life-saving benefits of vaccines, making it urgent to catch up and reach those who have been missed.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said, “World Immunization Week is the moment to get essential immunization back on track and launch catch up campaigns to ensure that everyone, everywhere has access to life-saving vaccines.”

World Immunization Week is supported by the World Health Organization and a wide range of partners, including Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and many more.

Watch the WHO’s World Immunization Week campaign video to learn more.