“Prevent. Protect. Immunize.” World Immunization Week 2020 launches

This year as every year, World Immunization Week (WIW) is celebrated from 24th until 30th April. It is coordinated by the World Health Organization and supported by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) alongside the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)with the aim of raising awareness among the population, health workers, decision makers and the media of the importance of vaccines at all stages of life and all EU Member States are invited to take part.

World Immunization Week (WIW), which in Europe is called European Immunization Week (EIW), has been celebrated every year for over three decades, with the aim of helping to support public demand by providing political and social support for vaccination, through advocacy, health education, targeted communication and counselling. Its ultimate aim is to increase vaccination coverage by communicating the importance of immunisation to parents, operators, health professionals, policy makers and the mass media.

In these years of intense activity in which public health around the world has worked and is still working with consistency and commitment to raise awareness of the importance of vaccinations and thus increase vaccination coverage, WIW, and EIW, have become widely recognised events on a global scale. Indeed, EIW takes place thanks to the joint action by the Member States of the European Region, with the involvement of all offices and national partners of WHO, the Ministries of Health, the Professional and Parent Organisations, the Local Health Structures , the Departments of Prevention and Public Health of the national and international territories together with all citizens. EIW activities include, in particular, refresher sessions for healthcare workers, dissemination of information material, press conferences and much more .

In this period of profound emergency COVID19 in which public health is burdened by an even heavier workload than that which followed the extension of mandatory vaccination, Vaccinarsinsardegna.org, believes it necessary to underline the importance of global preventive action and to reassure citizens of the guarantee of an active service that cannot and must not be overlooked.

People’s attention, but also that of the Health Services is in fact totally taken up by by the pandemic and other areas of prevention often pale into the background. In this context, it is essential that, despite the current situation, countries maintain normal vaccination activities as much as possible especially for primary cycle vaccinations (in particular vaccines containing measles-rubella or pertussis, poliomyelitis and other combined vaccines) and those for the most vulnerable people (in particular against flu and pneumococcus).

Even a temporary interruption in vaccination services would lead to an accumulation of susceptible people and to a greater risk of epidemics of VPDs (vaccine preventable diseases); previous outbreaks of disease and past humanitarian emergencies also underlined the importance of maintaining essential health services such as vaccination by effectively involving communities in planning and delivery services.

In this regard, the World Health Organization, emphasising the imperative for all countries to maintain the continuity of vaccination services wherever they can be conducted safely and in order to avoid the likelihood of VPDs occurring, on March 26, 2020 published the Guidance on routine immunization services during COVID-19 pandemic in the WHO European Region - Attachment 1.

In these uncertain times in which the population sees periods of restriction on free movement extended, and where doubts about the evolution of the pandemic and uncertainty about the future are growing, it is not only important to draw attention to preventive vaccination which is being neglected, but also to inject a new impetus to the importance of vaccination in order to instil confidence in the population.

To learn more about this topic and consult the specific recommendations for how to carry out vaccination activities in safety, users are invited to read the study on "Vaccinazioni durante la pandemia da COVID-19: la guida dell’OMS Europa" by Antonietta Filia and Maria Cristina Rota (Istituto Superiore di Sanità) published on April 7, 2020 in EpiCentro and the Guiding principles for immunization activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, Attachment 2 to this article.

Furthermore, since 2020 is the international year of the nurse and the midwife, this edition of the World Immunization Week aims to draw attention to the crucial role played by these professionals in raising awareness of the importance of vaccination, especially for health workers given the professional, social and welfare mission that they carry out. In fact, vaccination of healthcare workers for the prevention of infectious diseases within healthcare structures has many benefits: protecting the worker from the risk of infection linked to occupational exposure, protecting patients within healthcare facilities, and safeguarding the health services thus guaranteeing the highest quality of the assistance provided.

What better opportunity then, to draw attention to the importance of prevention as a weapon that has enabled us to eradicate serious diseases in the past, save millions of lives every day in the present and protect against community infections in the future?

Communicating to the public the indispensability of such a lifesaver by continuing to give information about vaccinations to ensure those levels of vaccination coverage that will protect us from risks when normal interpersonal contact resumes, is a necessary and indispensable action.

The Vaccinarsinsardegna.org team also wishes to remind users that in the Contact Us section of our site, the team is constantly available to answer any doubts, needs or requests for information. Stay in touch so as not to miss future updates.

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