WHO pushes immunisation message as vaccination rates stagnate

Matt Woodley

29/04/2019 10:25:15 AM

World Immunisation Week has been punctuated by reports of millions of children missing out on vaccines over the past 10 years.

Child receiving vaccination
According to the WHO, the proportion of the world’s children who receive recommended vaccines has stagnated at 85% the past few years. (Image: Brendan Esposito)

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) message comes at a time when Australians of all ages are being urged to immunise themselves against influenza, following a record number of confirmed cases to start the year.
The main goal of the 2019 World Immunisation Week campaign is to raise awareness about the importance of full immunisation throughout life, and demonstrate the value of vaccines for the health of children, communities and the world.
It also aims to highlight the need to build on immunisation progress and identify program gaps, and show how routine immunisation is the ‘foundation for strong, resilient health systems and universal health coverage’.
According to the WHO, global vaccination coverage – the proportion of the world’s children who receive recommended vaccines – has stagnated at 85% over the past few years. The organisation estimates almost 20 million children under the age of one did not receive three doses of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP3) vaccine in 2017, and an additional 1.5 million deaths could be avoided it global immunisation coverage improved.
National immunisation schedules show only 67% of eligible children received two doses of measles vaccine in 2017.

Australia appears to have mostly bucked a global trend, with 93.47% of two-year-old immunised against the disease. However, a spike in domestic cases amid a global outbreak has also prompted warnings for parents to check their children’s immunisation history, fewer than five years after Australia was declared measles free.
Other countries – particularly in Europe, where the rate has tripled – have recorded thousands of new measles cases. Additionally, the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) last week reported that it had recorded 695 cases from 22 states, the highest numbers in nearly 20 years.
The United Nations’ children’s fund, UNICEF, has painted an even bleaker picture, suggesting that more than 160 million children have missed measles vaccines over the past eight years. As a result, it estimates around 110,000 people, most of them children, died from measles in 2017 – up 22% from the year before.
Despite Australia’s high immunisation rate, 138,000 children did not receive the first measles vaccine between 2010 and 2017 – the ninth-highest total among high-income countries.
More information on World Immunisation Week, including campaign materials, can be found on the WHO website.

immunisation influenza measles vaccination World Immunisation Week

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