For more than two centuries, vaccines have helped keep people healthy—from the very first vaccine developed to protect against smallpox to the newest vaccines used to prevent severe cases of COVID-19. Since then, families and communities have entrusted vaccines to protect their loved ones. But the value of vaccines is measured by more than the number of doses given.
Vaccines provide everyone a chance at a fulfilling life.
Each April, World Immunisation Week brings together people from around the world to highlight the importance of vaccines and how they protect people of all ages against many diseases, giving us the opportunity to pursue a life well-lived. This year’s campaign comes at an especially critical time as the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted essential health services, including routine immunisation, setting back progress by more than a decade. Unfortunately, millions of people are still missing out on the life-saving benefits of vaccines, making it urgent to catch up and reach those who have been missed.
Since at least the 1400s, people have looked for ways to protect themselves against infectious disease. From the practice of “ variolation ” in the 15th century to today’s mRNA vaccines, immunisation has a long history. Integral to that history has been the World Health Organisation (WHO), whose global vaccine drives through the 20th and 21st centuries have played such a crucial role in reducing serious illness.
If you want to know more about World Immunisation Week, visit the World Health Organisation’s website.