Washington, D.C, 19 April 2018 (PAHO/WHO) — More than 70 million people will
be vaccinated against a variety of dangerous vaccine-preventable diseases during
the 16th annual Vaccination Week in the Americas – 10 million more than in 2017.
Coordinated by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the campaign, which
has taken place each year since 2003 and will be celebrated this year from 21 to 28
April, aims to promote the vital role of vaccination in saving lives.
The slogan for this year’s campaign is “Strengthen your defense! #GetVax
#VaccinesWork.” It was chosen in honor of the 2018 soccer World Cup and seeks to
encourage the population in general, and particularly those planning a trip abroad, to
get vaccinated in order to strengthen their immune systems and avoid disease.
As part of the Vaccination Week in the Americas celebrations, 11 countries have
announced their intention to strengthen measles immunization through the
vaccination of 6 million people. The endemic measles virus was eliminated in the
Americas but continues to circulate in other parts of the world. However, in 2017,
almost 900 new cases were registered in four countries of the region, and during the
first few months of this year, 380 new cases were registered in eleven countries.
“Vaccination Week is a great opportunity to unite efforts in protecting the health of
the population,” said Carissa F. Etienne, Director of PAHO. Vaccination and
surveillance are particularly important for the region to ensure that diseases such as
measles do not get reintroduced, she added. Since May 2017, PAHO has released
several alerts about new measles outbreaks and has called for strengthened efforts
to prevent new cases and halt transmission.
As part of the Vaccination Week in the Americas campaign, 14 countries will
vaccinate against influenza, 16 will vaccinate against polio, 13 will vaccinate against
the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and five will vaccinate against yellow fever.
Sixteen countries are also planning a series of other public health actions, such as
the distribution of Vitamin A and deworming initiatives, in addition to vaccinating.
On 23 April, Cuba will host the regional launch at the Victoria de Girón Institute of
Basic and Preclinical Sciences in Havana. Cuban authorities, the Director General of
the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus; and PAHO Director,
Carissa F. Etienne, will participate, along with representatives from other countries,
UN agencies, and partners.
Launch activities are also planned in Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas,
Barbados, Brazil, the British Virgin Islands, Colombia, Curacao, the Dominican
Republic, Granada, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Saint
Lucia, Saint Martin, Turks and Caicos, and Trinidad and Tobago; several
international events are also being planned.
The Region of the Americas is a global leader in vaccination. In 1971, it became the
first region in the world to eliminate smallpox. In 1994, the region obtained
certification for the elimination of polio, and in 2015, it eliminated rubella and
congenital rubella syndrome. In 2016, measles was eliminated from the region,
followed in 2017 by neonatal tetanus elimination.
The Americas is also at the cutting edge of new vaccine introduction: 21 countries
and territories vaccinate against rotavirus; 30 vaccinate against pneumococcus; and
31 against HPV.
Since the creation of Vaccination Week in the Americas in 2003, more than 720
million people of all ages have been vaccinated against a variety of dangerous
diseases. The campaign has proven so successful that in 2012, it inspired the
creation of the World Health Organization’s World Immunization Week, an initiative
that aims to ensure that the entire world is protected against vaccine-preventable
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) works with the countries of the
Americas to improve the health and quality of life of its population. Founded in 1902,
it is the world’s oldest international public health agency. It serves as the Regional
Office of WHO for the Americas and is the specialized health agency of the InterAmerican
XVI Vaccination Week in the Americas
Measles – Epidemiological Update. 9 March 2018
PAHO urges countries to vaccinate against measles to maintain its elimination in the
Video: PAHO Director Message
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