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Protect your community: Get vaccinated

Protect your community: Get vaccinated

MANILA, 26 April 2015 – An estimated 1.5 million children worldwide die each year of diseases that can be readily prevented by vaccines. On World Immunization Week (24 April – 3 May), the World Health Organization (WHO) in the Western Pacific Region underscores the importance of immunization as a shared responsibility and a vital component in protecting communities.

"Immunization is a crucial public health programme. It is the best, easiest and one of the most cost-effective ways to protect people and their communities from a large number of diseases," said Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific.

Immunization saves an estimated 2 to 3 million lives worldwide each year from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and measles. Since the inception of the Expanded Programme on Immunization in 1974, vaccination has prevented millions of deaths and disabilities in the Western Pacific Region, achieved dramatic declines in once highly endemic diseases, stopped the transmission of wild poliovirus across the Region, and dramatically reduced the transmission of measles virus and hepatitis B virus in many countries in the Region.

Immunization successes in the Region

The Western Pacific Region has made significant progress in the control of vaccine-preventable diseases.

• The Region continues to be polio-free since 2000 and is now implementing polio "endgame strategies" to support the goal of a polio-free world. In November 2013, the Regional Certification Commission of Poliomyelitis Eradication in the Western Pacific concluded that the Region has retained its polio-free status.

• Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Japan, Macao SAR (China), Mongolia and the Republic of Korea have been verified as having achieved measles elimination, thanks to high immunization coverage, through routine immunization services or campaigns.

• From 1990 to 2012, hepatitis B vaccination at birth in the Western Pacific Region increased from almost zero to three out of four newborn infants. Meanwhile, three-dose vaccination coverage increased from 17% to 91%. The target coverage in the Region for timely birth dose vaccination is 95%.

• Maternal and neonatal tetanus elimination has been achieved in 35 of the 37 countries and areas in the Western Pacific Region, significantly reducing the danger of tetanus infection during childbirth and early infancy.

• Recent increases in the availability of Japanese encephalitis vaccines provide the opportunity to accelerate control of this devastating disease. Japanese encephalitis affects an estimated 67 900 people a year in the Western Pacific.

• An estimated 97% of infants in the Region have been fully vaccinated with diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine.

Persisting challenges

Despite improvements in global vaccine coverage, regional and local disparities remain. These are caused by limited resources, competing health priorities, poor management of health systems, and inadequate monitoring and supervision.

Further efforts are needed to ensure that all people in the Region are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases. It is, therefore, vital that routine immunization be strengthened, especially in countries with the highest number of unvaccinated or incompletely-vaccinated children. Closing immunization gaps will help substantially reduce the number of susceptible children worldwide and limit the occurrence and spread of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases.

WHO response
The Regional Framework for Implementation of the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) in the Western Pacific has been developed to translate the strategies and activities recommended by the GVAP into the context of the Western Pacific Region.

The regional framework will support Member States in implementing GVAP by consolidating all regional and global immunization goals, describing priority actions appropriate for the Region. The regional framework will also highlight strategies essential to achieve the goals and strengthen immunization programmes in the Western Pacific.

The regional immunization goals are: (1) sustaining polio-free status; (2) maternal and neonatal tetanus elimination; (3) measles elimination; (4) accelerated control of hepatitis B; (5) rubella elimination; (6) accelerated control of Japanese encephalitis; (7) meeting regional vaccination coverage targets; and (8) evidence-based introduction of new vaccines.

"Investing in prevention costs less than responding to outbreaks," said Dr Shin. "Immunization is one of the most cost-effective ways to prevent diseases. Therefore, families must ensure that they are all fully immunized."

Related links:

World Immunization Week 2015

Fact sheet: Immunization coverage

Global Vaccine Action Plan

Decade of Vaccines—Global Vaccine Action Plan 2011-2020

The immunization programme that saved millions of lives


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