Statement of support from HRH Crown Princess Mary

Steen Evald

Immunization Week 2009

As Patron of the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, and as a mother, I am a strong supporter of vaccinations. We are fortunate today to have safe and effective vaccines to protect our children from life-threatening diseases.

Recently, many European countries have suffered from outbreaks of measles because parents are not vaccinating their children either at the right time or not at all. It is disturbing to hear that a child died from measles in Europe this year – this is a sad and an avoidable loss. Our children should not be dying of diseases that can be prevented by vaccination. All children need to be immunized to prevent such heartbreak.

Some parents may be afraid that vaccinations could harm their children. They shouldn’t be. The risk to a child’s health is much greater if they were to get a disease such as polio, mumps or measles. Immunization saves lives. Apart from safe drinking water, no other health prevention has reduced diseases and mortality as effectively and safely as immunization. It is also important for parents to understand that when they do not vaccinate their children they are placing other children and the whole community at risk of spreading disease.

Our goal for this year’s European Immunization Week is to convince parents and health care providers throughout the region that vaccination is important for our children’s health and to share this crucial message with others. It is the right of every child to grow up healthy, and vaccinated against those diseases that can so easily be controlled.

Together with WHO, countries in the European Region are committed to the elimination of measles and rubella by 2010. As the date approaches, all countries in the Region must increase their efforts to meet this goal. During European Immunization Week, please join WHO in spreading the message to protect, immunize, and prevent disease: our children are depending on us.