World Immunization Week – celebrated every year in the last week of April – aims to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease. Immunization saves millions of lives every year and is widely recognized as one of the world’s most successful health interventions. Yet, there are still nearly 20 million children in the world today who are not getting the vaccines they need, and many miss out on vital vaccines during adolescence, adulthood and into old age.
Using the theme ‘Vaccines bring us closer’, World Immunization Week 2021 will urge greater engagement around immunization globally to promote the importance of vaccination in bringing people together, and improving the health and wellbeing of everyone, everywhere throughout life.
While the world focuses on critically important new vaccines to protect against COVID-19, there remains a need to ensure routine vaccinations are not missed. Many children have not been vaccinated during the global pandemic, leaving them at risk of serious diseases like measles and polio. Rapidly circulating misinformation around the topic of vaccination adds to this threat.
In this context, this year’s campaign will aim to build solidarity and trust in vaccination as a public good that saves lives and protects health.
Vaccines have brought us closer, and will bring us closer again
For over 200 years, vaccines have protected us against diseases that threaten lives and prohibit our development. With their help, we can progress without the burden of diseases like smallpox and polio, which cost humanity hundreds of millions of lives
Whilst vaccines aren’t a silver bullet, they will help us progress on a path to a world where we can be together again.
Vaccines themselves continue to advance, bringing us closer to a world free from the likes of TB and cervical cancer, and ending suffering from childhood diseases like measles.
Investment and new research is enabling groundbreaking approaches to vaccine development, which are changing the science of immunization forever, bringing us closer still to a healthier future.
Vaccines bring us closer to the people, moments, milestones, and goals we care about most.
As more people are protected from COVID-19, vaccines will bring us closer again physically as travel restrictions, masking and distancing requirements are lifted, but vaccines bring us closer in many other ways and have for decades:
- Vaccines allow us to freely gather safely, whether for work, leisure, learning, duty, or worship.
- Vaccines build bridges across generations, protecting the very young and old by preventing disease transmission within households and among caregivers.
- Vaccines bring us closer to our own potential, enabling the immunized to thrive across the lifespan, with body and mind safeguarded from dangerous and debilitating vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs).
A year ago, there were 26 dangerous diseases for which we had safe and effective vaccines to prevent and control. Today, we add COVID-19 to the list of VPDs as four vaccines are currently being deployed under emergency use to save lives and livelihoods from the grip of the pandemic.