Immunizations save millions of children every year and are widely recognized as one of our most successful and cost-effective health interventions. But what is happening right now could reverse our hard-won progress.
According to the latest data collected by UNICEF and World Health Organization (WHO) on July 15, 2020, progress on immunization coverage was interrupted at 85% for DTP3 and measles vaccines before the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. This simply means that the probability of a child born today will be fully vaccinated with all the globally recommended vaccines by the time she reaches the age of 5 is less than 20%.
Based on the findings of UNICEF in Progress and Challenges with Achieving Universal Immunization Coverage, 50% of the people from 82 countries surveyed believe that inadequate personal protective equipment for health care workers contributed to disruptions in immunization services. Simultaneously, 40% reported travel restrictions, and 43% said they had too few health workers to administer vaccines.
Imagine the number of children missing out their immunizations up to this day, leaving them at risk of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and polio. Rapidly circulating misinformation around the topic of vaccination adds to this threat.
As the world unites against COVID-19, we are reminded of how quickly emerging and new diseases can spread when there is no immunity against them or a vaccine to prevent them. The arrival of the vaccines against COVID-19 ignites our hope for a world where we can be brought closer again.
But, because of the misinformation spreading around, be it in the community or social media, fear and distrust may potentially spread not just to the vaccination against COVID-19 but with other immunization campaigns, too.
The vaccine for the COVID-19 has just started to roll out in different places of the world, but we can already begin to do our part in keeping our community healthy by spreading the word about the importance of calling the shots.
On World Immunization Week, April 24-30, 2021, we advocate using vaccines to protect people of all ages against vaccine-preventable diseases. The WHO declared the Immunization Week’s theme “Vaccines bring us closer” to share the importance of vaccination in bringing people together and improving health and well-being everywhere throughout life.
The campaign this year aims to: a. Increase trust and confidence in vaccines to maintain or increase vaccine acceptance, and b. Increase investment in vaccines, including routine immunization, to remove barriers to access.
Over the years, vaccines have protected us and helped us prevent life-threatening diseases that killed hundreds of millions of lives, like smallpox and polio. It brought us closer to a world free of fatal childhood diseases, and we are already starting to create a healthy and safe community for our children. The vaccine for COVID-19 could also do the same and start breaking the walls and lockdowns the pandemic caused. Soon, we can start seeing our children playing outside again without any worries. Let’s be part of the Immunization week, and let’s Call the Shots.
Call the Shots PH Facebook Page is an awareness campaign to protect expectant parents and their children from vaccine-preventable diseases. This advocacy campaign is brought to you by MSD in the Philippines.
For more information, visit Call the Shots Facebook Page and consult your pediatrician on how to protect your children against vaccine-preventable diseases.
- World Immunization Week 2021 – Vaccines bring us closer. World Health Organization