The Director of PAHO, Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, has launched in Brazil the 17th edition of Vaccination Week in the Americas, under the theme “Protect your community. Do your part”-
Vaccination Week in numbers:
- At least 20 countries plan to vaccinate more than 2.25 million children and adults against measles (Anguilla, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Paraguay, St. Maarten, Suriname, Turks and Caicos Islands and Uruguay).
- Brazil plans to implement a massive campaign against influenza, targeting a total of 50 million people.
- Another 11 countries (Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Honduras, Jamaica, Paraguay, Peru, St. Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago) will also conduct influenza campaigns targeting various groups with the “southern hemisphere” formulation of the seasonal influenza vaccine, in preparation for the increased circulation of the virus in the coming months.
- At least 4 countries (Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador) are including the vaccination against Yellow Fever in areas at risk of the disease.
- Around 18 countries and territories, including Belize, Bermuda, Barbados, Bonaire, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama, Paraguay, St. Maarten, Trinidad and Tobago and Uruguay, plan to vaccinate adolescents against HPV and carry out related promotional and educational activities.
- This year, 16 countries seek to reach populations in situations of vulnerability, including pregnant and postpartum women, health workers, older adults, indigenous populations, individuals with chronic disease, and prisoners and prison workers, among other occupational risk groups and vulnerable populations.
- Several countries will focus their efforts on protecting occupational health workers against a range of diseases such as hepatitis B, tetanus and influenza.
- As part of Brazil’s Month of Vaccination of Indigenous Peoples, a combined effort of the National Vaccination Program and the Department of Indigenous Health, the aim is to update vaccination schedules of approximately 695,7822 people in indigenous communities, in addition to administering the annual dose of the influenza vaccine. This effort will require the participation of around 3500 health professionals.
Historically, the Region of the Americas has led the way towards the elimination of various vaccine-preventable diseases. In 1971, it became the first region in the world to eliminate smallpox. In 1994, it achieved certification for the elimination of poliomyelitis. In 2015, it ended rubella and congenital rubella syndrome and in 2016, it eliminated measles. However, according to Etienne, the resurgence in outbreaks of measles and diphtheria, as well the occurrence of yellow fever, are challenges that must be faced in the Region. “Measles remains a public health problem in all other Regions of the World Health Organization (WHO) and imported cases have been a significant threat to the countries of the Americas, where more than 17,000 cases have been registered since 2017,” said the PAHO Director.
To halt outbreaks of measles in the Region, it is vital that countries achieve increased vaccination coverage so that at least 95% of the target population receive 2 doses of vaccine against the disease, including health professionals and people living in situations of vulnerability. “We can interrupt the transmission of measles by working together, in the field, on the borders, with true Pan-American spirit. Brazil calls on the international community to come together so that the world unites for vaccination. The challenges are not just for the Brazilian health system, but for humanity as a whole” emphasized Dr. Etienne.