Familiarizing Ourselves with World Immunization Week

World Immunization Week, organized by the World Health Organization (WHO), takes place annually during the last week of April and provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of immunization for people of all ages. This year, The Big Catch-Up campaign will focus on those individuals who have been left out or overlooked in the past.

The World Health Organization states, 2023 is our global opportunity to catch up on lost progress in essential immunization. We need to reach the millions of children who missed out on vaccines, restore essential immunization coverage to at least 2019 levels, strengthen primary health care to deliver immunization and build lasting protection in communities and countries.”

The aim of World Immunization Week is to promote awareness and encourage everyone to receive the necessary immunizations so that no one misses out on lifesaving shots. By joining forces each April, we can make a difference!

Importance of Immunization in Preventing Infectious Diseases

Immunization is one of the most efficacious ways to ensure protection against infectious diseases, including those caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Vaccines provide a way for individuals to develop immunity without suffering from the illness itself. It is also one of the most cost-effective public health interventions available if you think in terms of reducing costs associated with treating illnesses and deaths resulting from infectious diseases.

Additionally, immunizations play a crucial role in enhancing herd immunity within the population, which in turn offers vital protection for those individuals who are unable to receive vaccinations due to underlying health conditions, age restrictions, or specific medical contraindications.

Vaccines are also key in preserving antimicrobial drugs for future generations by decreasing the development and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, a major contributor to the global threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

The Global Vaccine Action Plan

Did you know that preventable diseases such as polio, measles and tuberculosis still affect millions of people all over the world?

To tackle this crisis, 194 Member States of the World Health Assembly endorsed the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) in May 2012. With the Global Vaccine Action Plan, we have an opportunity to save millions of lives by providing equitable access to existing vaccines in all communities.

The Global Vaccine Action Plan promotes immunization through strategies, advocacy efforts, collaboration and investments in technology. Here are the six strategic objectives of the GVAP:

  1. All countries commit to immunization as a priority.

  2. Individuals and communities understand the value of vaccines and demand immunization as both their right and responsibility.

  3. The benefits of immunization are equitably extended to all people.

  4. Strong immunization systems are an integral part of a well-functioning health system.

  5. Immunization programs have sustainable access to predictable funding, quality supply and innovative technologies.

  6. Country, regional and global research and development innovations maximize the benefits of immunization.

In celebration of World Immunization Week, it’s important to remember how essential the Global Vaccine Action Plan is in eliminating preventable diseases. The GVAP is working towards eliminating preventable diseases by ensuring that everyone has access to the vaccines and immunization services they need to protect their health and well-being. There is still much work to be done in this area, but by keeping the conversation about vaccines alive and spreading awareness about the importance of immunization, we can make a lasting impact on global health.

The Role of Vaccines in Preventing AMR

It’s not just the prevention of disease we need to worry about: immunization is also important for preventing the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Immunization not only lightens the burden of certain bacterial infections, but it can also decrease the demand for antibiotics. This is because fewer people will become ill if vaccinated and, therefore, not require antibiotics. This reduces the presence and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in our communities.

In the last ten years, various strains of Salmonella typhi have developed a resistance to multiple antibiotics — even those normally recommended for treatment. This includes what is known as extensively drug-resistant (XDR) Salmonella typhi, which has been found in nearly every corner of our planet.

The introduction of the TCV in 2018 has had a remarkable impact on slowing down typhoid fever infections. It is predicted that, by introducing this vaccine and running catch-up campaigns, we will be able to avoid an estimated 42.5 million cases and 506,000 deaths caused by fluoroquinolone-resistant typhoid fever over the next decade; additionally, 21.2 million cases and 342,000 deaths from multidrug-resistant typhoid fever can also be prevented with TCV’s help.

In episode 12 of Superbugs and You — a collaboration between ARFC and CIDRAP—delve deeper to explore how vaccinations can make a difference, as well as the difficulties in rolling out effective programs.

Tips for Parents on Ensuring Their Children Receive the Necessary Vaccinations

As parents, we always want the best for our children and often have questions about the vaccines recommended for children. Your child’s doctor can answer any questions you might have. Most families decide to follow the recommended vaccination schedule from the CDC.

With so much going on, it can be challenging to remember which vaccines come when. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to keep track of your child’s immunization schedule. Start by finding a healthcare provider that explains the recommendations thoroughly, create reminders in an online calendar or Post-it notes around the house, and enroll in reminders through text messages or e‑mails offered by some pediatricians and pharmacies.

During this World Immunization Week, let’s take action to guarantee our children receive the essential protection they deserve!

The Call to Action

At this point, it’s unmistakably apparent that immunization is an integral element of global health and safeguarding against AMR. World Immunization Week is a great opportunity for us all to raise awareness about the importance of vaccines and to increase vaccination coverage worldwide.

The Antimicrobial Resistance Fighter Coalition (ARFC) is proud to join together with other global organizations to shed light on this crucial issue and support World Immunization Week 2023 (and beyond!). We recognize that immunizations are not just effective in preventing infectious diseases but also in eliminating the transmission of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). By administering vaccines to people, it can help lessen instances where antibiotics may be needed for treatment.

As part of our mission to combat AMR, we are committed to sharing helpful information about superbugs and the mechanisms of prevention, such as vaccines. Therefore, we’ve created multiple resources to help you stay in the know. Most recently, we’ve launched episode 12 of Superbugs and You, titled, Vaccines and the Vulnerable: Resistant Salmonella typhi.

Together, we can make a difference and save lives by spreading awareness and advocating for global access to vaccines.

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