The last week of April – this year the 24th to 30th – is World Immunisation Week. The week serves as a way to remind people around the world of the importance of immunisation to public health, encouraging them to support immunisation campaigns in their own communities and to ensure that they're up to date on their own immunisations.
While previously marked in different months by different countries, the first modern World Immunisation Week was held in 2012 after the occasion was endorsed by the World Health Organisation. Since then, the popularity of the event has exploded, with more than 180 countries and territories participating.
But why has World Immunisation Day proven so popular, and why is it so necessary? In this blog, Wilson Medic One explains this event needs your support and your awareness.
We've accomplished so much
One of the key goals of World Immunisation Week is to draw attention to all the good work that immunisation as a practice has achieved in the world. The World Health Organisation states that in the 16 years between 2000 and 2016, measles deaths fell by 84%, meaning that millions of lives across the world were saved as a direct result of vaccination.
Equally important is the fall in polio cases. Once responsible for the deaths of thousands of people a year and causing lifelong debilitating muscle weakness in thousands more, the disease has been all but eradicated after an aggressive multi-decade immunisation program that saw wild cases sink from 350,000 in 1988 to just 37 in 2016. Previously a global killer, polio is only naturally spreading in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and many organisations believe total eradication within our lifetime is possible.
Much more to do
While the victories of vaccination are many, there's still so many battles to be fought. World Immunisation Week also seeks to draw attention to where our previous efforts have fallen short. Currently, one in seven children do not receive the full benefits of vaccines, and at current levels of vaccine coverage, as many as 24 million people could fall into poverty due to health expenses by 2030.
How you can get involved
Vaccination works, and it works well, but in order for everyone to benefit, we have to work even harder. This World Vaccination Week, help ensure a better future for people around the world by donating to local and multinational organisations supporting vaccination.
Looking to do more? Don't just preach vaccination, practice it. With winter just around the corner, World Immunisation Week is the perfect time for businesses and organisations to offer their employees free flu shots, helping to protect them from sickness and keep them happy, productive and active.