This year’s European Immunisation Week celebrates 40 years since the introduction of the WHO Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) by the World Health Assembly in 1974. Since its creation, the EPI programme has significantly contributed to guiding the establishment of standardized vaccination schedules for major vaccine-preventable diseases in the Member States, such as TB, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, polio, and measles.
WHO Europe Regional Director Zsuzsanna Jakab today stated “Before its initiation, although the European Region was well on the way to developing robust systems, worldwide coverage of child vaccination against TB, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and measles was less than 5%. Today the European Region is polio free, and most countries have achieved over 90% vaccination coverage via effective routine immunization systems”.
Despite such significant achievements, Europe is still challenged by a largely preventable burden of infectious diseases due to increasing complacent attitude towards diseases, growing hesitancy on the need and value of vaccination on the part of both general public and healthcare professionals. This is resulting in outbreaks of costly outbreaks of measles, pertussis, influenza despite the availability and affordability of the vaccines.
Furthermore, vaccination is still largely regarded as a childhood matter only, despite it being key to protect healthy individuals at all stages of life. This is of growing relevance as we see populations growing older, and experiencing a higher incidence of chronic conditions – for many of which vaccination plays a crucial role in preventing secondary complications from arising. Immunisation throughout life is also instrumental to effectively protect other population sub-groups around us, such as those who cannot benefit or fully benefit from direct immunisation, e.g. the immune-compromised, newborns, and the elderly.
This is why this year’s European Immunisation Week is focused on “Immunisation for all” in tandem with the World Immunisation Week’s theme “Are you up to Date?”
Join the discussion and share your ideas as well as Qs on twitter using the #EIW2014 and #RUuptodate hashtags.
For more information on the European Immunisation Week click here.
For more information on the World Immunisation Week visit this link.
Please access the full speech from WHO Europe Regional Director Zsuzsanna Jakab here.
The official campaign website where you can also share your campaign ideas or events is here.