World Immunization Week: Urgent Global Need for Vaccines
Last week marked the start of the 6th annual World Immunization Week, an effort endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to highlight how vaccination can improve and save lives around the world. The WHO estimates that vaccinations prevent 2- to 3-million deaths a year – thanks to vaccines for 25 different infectious agents or diseases – but that more than 19.5 million infants around the world still do not receive their most basic vaccinations.
The goal of the 2018 campaign – “Protected Together, #VaccinesWork” – is to urge greater action on immunization around the world, with a specific focus on the role that every individual can play in this effort. While some of history’s most deadly diseases like polio are almost 99% eliminated, a large number of children in specific regions still do not or cannot receive routine vaccines, despite the fact that these immunizations help prevent widespread disease and save lives, and are considered one of the most cost-effective health interventions available.
According to the WHO, global vaccination levels are around 86% but have stalled at that benchmark in the last year. Around 60% of unvaccinated children live in 10 specific countries: Angola, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, and South Africa. The WHO explains that monitoring data at subnational levels is critical to helping countries prioritize and tailor vaccination strategies to address immunization gaps and reach every person with lifesaving vaccines.
The Global Vaccine Action Plan was created by the WHO as a roadmap help countries provide more equitable access to vaccines by 2020, but to date, progress towards its goals is off track. Through its World Immunization Week efforts, the WHO hopes to spread awareness about the importance to society as a whole on ensuring that all people have access to immunizations, to not only save lives but also prevent highly contagious disease outbreaks. Though fact sheets, social media tools, quizzes, and stories of needs around the world, hopes are that individuals will not only ensure their own families are immunized, but possibly become donors or advocates for those in other countries.
In the U.S., childhood vaccination rates hover at around 80-90%, but the Center of Disease Control (CDC) points out that many adult Americans are not fully vaccinated, putting them at risk for illness, hospitalization, disability, and, in some cases, death from vaccine-preventable diseases, particularly influenza (flu) and pneumococcal disease.
The CDC recommends that health care providers follow the Standards for Adult Immunization Practice and routinely assess adults’ vaccination status at every clinical encounter, strongly recommending needed vaccines. Additionally, vaccination providers should ensure reporting of vaccinations to their state’s immunization information system to provide a better picture of vaccination rates and gaps.
For providers and also private companies needing to manage numerous records, technology is assisting in helping maintain records and avoid gaps in immunization. ESO Solutions – a leading provider of software tools for EMS, Fire, and Hospitals to increase efficiencies in medical records for both patients and employees – offers its streamlined ESO Personnel Management software that can track employee immunization records along with individual training, certifications, and compliance. Less time spent on updating records and more efficient operations means a safer work environment and community as a whole. The Personnel Software also works seamlessly with the larger ESO Health Data Exchange software suite for hospitals, making it easier to meet state requirements and initiatives on reporting.