Approximately 180 nations taking part in Immunization Week

Immunization Week, the United Nations-backed immunization campaign, began on Saturday, with approximately 180 countries and territories participating this year.

The global event is taking place across the five U.N. World Health Organization regions of Africa, the Americas, the Eastern Mediterranean, Europe and the Western Pacific. The campaign targets diseases such as influenza, measles, polio and tetanus.

During Immunization Week, outreach teams visit communities with limited access to regular health services, including those living in remote areas, urban fringes and internally displaced people, to administer vaccines.

In addition to providing vaccinations, the Immunization Week campaign focuses on raising awareness on the importance of immunization, including training sessions and workshops for health workers and round-table discussions with political leaders, medical professionals, parents and caregivers.  

Presidents, prime ministers, first ladies, health ministers, ambassadors and leading personalities also aid the U.N.-supported initiative.  

“I believe Immunization Week will have a significant impact on emphasizing the need to remain vigilant against vaccine-preventable diseases, even those that we do not see within our communities," WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said.

The week-long campaign comes at a time when nearly 6,500 cases of measles have been reported in Europe, with significant outbreaks occurring in 30 countries, including Belgium, France, Serbia, Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Spain.