World Immunisation Week

-Swaralee Khedkar, Final MBBS Student,

SMBT Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, Nashik

Not to sound somewhat out of a PSM textbook or a Pediatrics textbook, but immunisation has been a vital step to get to the 22nd century now. No wonder it is one of the most important and omnipresent topics. From the time humans started civilisations, it has been present. What even is ‘kala tikka’ if not the most primitive form of immunisation? Maybe not in the most literal sense, but it did serve to protect? 

Does it not seem apt to give it enough importance then? I mean, a week seems justifiable enough? World Immunisation Week is celebrated from 24 April to 30 April. It highlights the theme of ‘Long Life for All’. It celebrates the promotion of vaccine usage against preventable diseases for all ages of mankind. The ultimate goal is for more people – and their communities – to be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases. What started as a fight against Smallpox in 1796, it is now the biggest arsenal against preventable diseases. Since then, families and communities have entrusted vaccines to protect their loved ones. The 2022 theme “Long Life for All” aims to unify people around the idea that vaccines make it possible for us to follow our dreams, protect our loved ones and live a long, healthy life.

Vaccines for common diseases like measles, diarrheal diseases, and pneumonia are allowing more children around the world to live longer and more fulfilling lives where they can go to school, play with friends and make memories with loved ones. Other vaccines, like those that protect against the flu or cervical cancer, keep people healthy so that they can go to work, travel, and spend more time with the people they love.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of vaccines has been highlighted even further. With the quick advent of covid vaccines, it has been successfully possible to contain the drastic spread of the rampant disease that has been causing havoc. WHO has set a global target of 70 percent of the population of all countries to be vaccinated by mid-2022, but to reach this goal more equitable access to vaccines will be needed. Inequitable vaccine distribution is not only leaving millions or billions of people vulnerable to the deadly virus, but it is also allowing even more deadly variants to emerge and spread across the globe. Moreover, unequal distribution of vaccines will deepen inequality and exaggerate the gap between rich and poor, and will reverse decades of hard-won progress in human development.

Put simply, the rich countries are getting the majority of vaccines, with many poorer countries struggling to vaccinate even a small number of citizens. As was made evident by the covid pandemic. The vaccine equity dashboard shows that, without immediate global financial support, low-income countries would have to increase their healthcare spending by between 30 and 60 percent to meet the target of vaccinating 70 percent of their citizens. WHO and UNICEF have worked with other organizations to establish and manage the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility, known as COVAX. Launched in April 2020, WHO called it a “ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines”. Its aim is to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world based on need and not purchasing power.


References:


1. World Immunization Week 2022 [Internet]. Who.int. 2022 [cited 21 April 2022]. Available from: https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-immunization-week/world-immunization-week-2022

2. World Immunization Week 2022 – Long Life for All [Internet]. Who.int. 2022 [cited 21 April 2022]. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/events/detail/2022/04/24/default-calendar/world-immunization-week-2022—long-life-for-all

3. Vaccine equity [Internet]. Who.int. 2022 [cited 21 April 2022]. Available from: https://www.who.int/campaigns/vaccine-equity

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