World Immunization Week 2024

Aishwarya Pillai

, News

World Immunization Week 2024: A Celebration of Global Health Resilience


As the last week of April approaches, the world unites to commemorate World Immunization Week – a powerful global public health campaign that aims to raise awareness and increase access to life-saving vaccines against preventable diseases. This annual observance serves as a resounding reminder of the transformative impact of immunization on global health and development.


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Immunization: A Resounding Success Story


Immunization stands as a true global public health and development success story, saving an astonishing 3.5 to 5 million lives every year. Through the remarkable advancements in vaccine science, we now have the ability to prevent more than 20 life-threatening diseases, enabling people of all ages to live longer, healthier, and more fulfilling lives.

Resilience in the Face of Adversity


The COVID-19 pandemic and its associated disruptions posed unprecedented challenges to health systems worldwide in 2020 and 2021, straining resources and impeding vaccination efforts. However, the global perspective on recovery is now on the horizon – in 2022, diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus (DTP) immunization coverage, although uneven across countries, has nearly rebounded to pre-pandemic levels of 2019.

A Legacy of Triumph


The global vaccine drives of the latter half of the 20th century stand as one of humanity’s greatest achievements. Immunization campaigns have enabled us to eradicate smallpox, bring polio to the brink of eradication, and ensure that more children than ever before survive and thrive.

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Celebrating 50 Years of Expanded Immunization


This year’s World Immunization Week holds special significance as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI). This milestone recognizes our collective efforts to save and improve countless lives through the power of vaccines while calling on countries to ramp up investments in immunization programs to protect future generations.


In just five decades, we have transformed from a world where the death of a child was a stark reality for many parents, to a world where every child – if vaccinated – has a chance to survive and thrive.

The Evolution of Immunization


At its inception in 1974, the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) focused on protecting all children against six childhood illnesses. Today, this number has grown to 13 universally recommended vaccines across the life course, with an additional 17 vaccines recommended based on specific contexts. This expansion has led to the program being aptly renamed the Essential Programme on Immunization, reflecting its vital role in promoting global health and well-being.

Overcoming Setbacks and Challenges


While more than 4 million additional children were vaccinated globally in 2022 compared to 2021, there are still 20 million children who missed out on one or more of their scheduled vaccines. Growing conflicts, economic downturns, and a rise in vaccine hesitancy pose significant threats to efforts to reach these vulnerable populations. Consequently, the world is witnessing sudden outbreaks of diseases like diphtheria and measles, which were once nearly under control.


While global vaccine coverage is commendable, with 4 out of 5 children fully covered, there is still work to be done to ensure universal access to these life-saving interventions.


As we observe World Immunization Week, let us celebrate the remarkable achievements of the global immunization community and renew our commitment to overcoming the challenges that lie ahead. Through collective action, unwavering resolve, and a shared vision of a healthier future, we can continue to build upon the legacy of immunization, ensuring that every child, every family, and every community has the opportunity to thrive.


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