European Immunization Week 2018: vaccination is an individual right and shared responsibility

WHO/Malin Bring

On 23–29 April 2018, the WHO European Region celebrates European Immunization Week (EIW), an annual initiative that raises awareness of the importance of immunization for people’s health and well-being. Since its inception in 2005, EIW has grown into a widely recognized event carried out predominately by the Region’s Member States and involving WHO country offices and partners, health ministries, professional and parent organizations, local health facilities, politicians and more. The initiative’s aim is to help sustain public demand and political support for immunization through advocacy and targeted communication and educational activities.

The European Region continues to enjoy overall high childhood immunization coverage and is progressing towards the goals of the European Vaccine Action Plan, including elimination of measles and rubella. Unfortunately, the benefits of vaccines are spread unevenly in the Region, with far too many children missing the protection they deserve. In 2016, 1 in 15 infants in the Region missed their first measles-containing vaccine and 1 in 21 did not receive all recommended doses of vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. Such gaps in coverage have led to avoidable disease outbreaks in the Region.

Focus of 2018 campaign

To help close immunity gaps, EIW 2018 will focus on immunization as an individual right and shared responsibility.

Vaccines provide individual protection from dangerous diseases. But the benefits do not stop there. When all eligible individuals in a community are vaccinated, not enough susceptible people are left to sustain transmission of a contagious disease. Together they protect those who are most vulnerable, including babies. Every person deserves to be immunized and shares the social responsibility to protect those who cannot protect themselves.

Immunization keeps us protected together

In conjunction with other regional initiatives and World Immunization Week, the European Region will utilize EIW 2018 as an opportunity to highlight how vaccines work to protect individuals and their communities and to further progress towards the global Sustainable Development Goals.