Vaccination Week in the Americas

World Immunization Week: Report of Activities

June 26th, 2012 | Posted by PAHO/WHO in frontpage

World Immunization Week (WIW)
Over 180 countries across the world participated in the first ever World Immunization Week with the theme 'Protect your world: Get vaccinated.' The WHO-led initiative, which took place from 21-28 April 2012, focused on raising awareness and encourage people everywhere to protect themselves and their families against vaccine-preventable diseases. In this rapidly globalizing world, disease outbreakes can affect communities everywhere.

For some regions such as in the Americas, these weeks have been an annual tradition to showcase the power of immunization in protecting public health; but this is the first year this recognition is global.

Country activities implemented during the week ranged from the introduction of newly available vaccines into national immunization programs to training and workshops for healthcare workers, roundtable discussions with political decision-makers, medical professionals, parents and care givers, as well as mass vaccination campaigns.

Watch the WIW 30-seconf public service which was disseminated widely and aired on CNN International in the lead up and during WIW. The video is available in six languages at

Read more about the World Immunization Week. Don't forget to click on the links to the regional Immunization Weeks to see what countries in the various regions have implemented.

Partners also supported World Immunization Week:

  • UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake, recorded a video message urging support for immunization efforts
  • GAVI CEO Seth Berkley wrote a blog
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced the call for the next Gates Vaccine Innovation Award with nominations being accepted from 24 April 2012
  • Bill Gates Sr. participated in the immunization week event in Honduras and he will chronicle his experience learning about Honduras' sucess in photos and a blog post.

African Vaccination Week (AVW)
There was a special focus on polio eradication in this year's African Vaccination Week, with the theme "An unimmunized child is one too many. Give polio the final push." Over 30 countries participated in the event.

A high point of the 2012 AVW was the national launch in Accra, Ghana, on 26 April, marking the simultaneous introduction of life-saving pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines into Ghana's national immunization program to fight pneumonia and diarrheal diseases.

Vaccination Week in the Eastern Mediterranean (VWEM)
All 23 countries and territories in WHO's Eastern Mediterranean Region participated in the VWEM 2012 under the regional theme of "reaching every community." The regional launching ceremony was held in Sana'a, Yemen, under the patronage of the President of Yemen with participation from the Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health and Population.

A variety of activities were carried out during VWEM, including workshops, seminars, media campaigns, celebrations and social mobilization. In addition, countries expanded their vaccination services to the most marginalized populations, such as tracking unvaccinated people, extending operational hours, implementing large-scale vaccination campaigns and leveraging Child Health Days to deliver an integrated package of life-saving health interventions.

European Immunization Week (EIW)
All 53 countries in the European Region took part in this year's EIW, with a special focus on reaching vulnerable groups with immunization, and the need to control ongoing measles outbreaks.

Countries organized immunization activities ranging from conducting supplementary immunization activities or catch-up immunization campaigns to developing and disseminating public information materials, organizing conferences and health worker training on immunization, launching innovative communication tools such as iPhone applications and others.

As part of EIW, the campaign website featured guest bloggers each day of the week, addressing issues related to immunization from a variety of perspectives. The guest bloggers include representatives from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the United Nations Foundations's Shot@Life campaign, the GAVI Alliance and the Measles & Rubella Initiative. Other partners including the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), also contributed blogs, and other immunization experts and advocates, such as Christine Mosler, mother and author of the blog "Thinly Spread." In addition, members of the campaign site share information, pictures and videos from activities in countries.

During EIW 2012, countries emphasized the critical role frontline health workers play in ensuring the success of national immunization programs. In connection with this, WHO European Regional Office launched an online immunization resource center where health workers can download job aids to assist in their daily communication with patients about immunization.

The documents contained in this Resource Center are designed to assist health professionals in their day-to-day work as it relates to immunization. Some of the resources are meant specifically for health workers, for information and training purposes. Others are meant to be shared by health workers with patients, in order to provide them with important information about immunization and vaccine-preventable diseases. All resources will be made available in English, French, German and Russian and translations will be posted as soon as they are available. New resources will be added upon completion.

Immunization Week in South-East Asia
The South-East Asia Region declared 2012 as the Year of Intensification of routine immunization. During Immunization Week, WHO Regional Office in South-East Asia and its Member States in the Region acknowledged and celebrated the contributions of all immunization partners and most importantly, the hard work of health staff and volunteers involved in immunization for the last few decades.

Vaccination Week in the Western Pacific
About 31 countries and areas out of the 36 participated in this year's event. A regional launching ceremony was heal in the WHO Regional Office in Manila, Philippines. The launch was accompanied by ceremonies at the national and district levels in Member States in the Region. These ceremonies included the:

  • Introduction of rotavirus vaccine in the Philippines;
  • Introduction of the second dose of measles vaccine in Cambodia; and the
  • First public-private influenza campaign in the Lao People's Democratic Republic.

The Western Pacific Region also released the third in a series of cartoon videos about the adventures of Vacciboy and Immugirl to bring wider attention to the importance of vaccines and immunization.

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