Every year, the WHO European Region marks European Immunization Week (EIW) to promote immunization as vital to preventing diseases and protecting life. This year, on 24–30 April 2019, the campaign aims to raise awareness of the benefits of vaccination and to celebrate the “vaccine heroes” who contribute in so many ways to protecting lives through vaccination.
Vaccine heroes include health workers who administer vaccines, parents who choose vaccination for their children, and everyone who seeks evidence-based information and passes it on to empower others. This concept is further embedded in the larger framework of World Immunization Week, which will focus on the theme “Protected Together, #Vaccines Work”.
EIW’s key messages and facts about vaccines will be disseminated in countries across the Region through information campaigns, interviews, blogs, panel discussions, press releases, television programmes, scientific conferences and other activities, many of which will be attended by immunization experts from WHO and partner organizations. Highlights will be published after the event in the form of an EIW annual report.
EIW was first rolled out in 2005 to celebrate the success of immunization and to promote the core message that vaccines save lives. Since its inaugural event, the initiative has grown into one of the most visible public health campaigns in the Region. EIW is utilized by ministries, public health institutes, health-care workers and other individuals in their efforts to sustain or increase immunization coverage.
Vaccination fundamental to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals
EIW draws attention not only to the progress that has already been made in reducing the threat of vaccine-preventable diseases, but also to the many people in the Region who are still missing out on the protective benefits of vaccination. More effort is needed to ensure that immunization coverage gaps are closed and no one is left behind.
The European Vaccine Action Plan (EVAP) envisions a “European Region free of vaccine-preventable diseases, where countries provide equitable access to high-quality, safe, affordable vaccines and immunization services throughout the life course”. Making this vision a reality is vital to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and in particular Goal 3 “to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”.