The global immunization goals for reaching all individuals and communities through the Decade of Vaccines (2010-2020) can achieve its true potential only if the impressive progress seen in some countries becomes the norm. We need a stronger focus on reaching children missed by routine delivery systems, especially those living in countries, districts or areas where less than 800/0 are receiving vaccines or who are living in countries affected by conflict.
The objectives of the World Immunization week, a campaign that was started by WHO in 2015, are multifold:
- To raise awareness worldwide on the critical importance of full immunization throughout life.
- To highlight recent achievements, such as the phased introduction of a new polio vaccination regimen, which represents a critical step towards a polio-free world and the preparation for the globally synchronized withdrawal of type 2 OPV in 155 countries, thus eradicating type 2 polio virus, once and for all; elimination of rubella in the Americas; and elimination in Cambodia, India and Mauritania of tetanus among new mothers and new-born babies.
- To draw attention to exciting innovations, including progress on making vaccines against Ebola, malaria and dengue available.
- To encourage global partnership on reaching the children, adolescents and adults – especially those living in countries with inadequate coverage and those affected by conflict or other emergencies – not benefiting from life-saving vaccines.
- To increase recognition that governments, international organizations and other development partners need to align their efforts in strengthening leadership and accountability on achieving full immunization.
- To call for action on achieving universal coverage for immunization against measles, rubella and tetanus.
In April 2016, all countries will begin the phased withdrawal of oral polio vaccines by switching from the currently used oral vaccine to one that does not contain the strain of the virus which has already been eradicated. To provide complete protection against polio, many countries have already started the use of at least one dose of the injectable polio vaccine and others are planning to do so. These two critical steps in the Polio Endgame will accelerate polio eradication and help us to secure a polio-free world. Also:
- Vaccines against dengue, Ebola and malaria have been through clinical trials and are now in the pipeline.
- We need to get back on track with efforts to end tetanus among mothers infected during delivery and in newborn babies.
- Elimination of measles and rubella worldwide can be achieved as demonstrated in the Americas.
People living as refugees or in countries currently beset by conflict or other crises deserve to get all vaccinations – just like everyone else – but this requires greater efforts. WHO has made it a priority to work closely with countries around the world to help them reach more people with vaccination and carefully monitor their progress.