World Immunization Week 2016

“No child should be denied the right to immunization for unfair reasons, including economic or social causes. All barriers must be overcome.”

Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General


World Immunization Week (24-30 April 2016)


The last week of April each year is marked by WHO and partners as World Immunization Week. It aims to raise public awareness of how immunization saves lives, encouraging people everywhere to vaccinate themselves and their children against deadly diseases.


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Immunization averts an estimated 2 to 3 million deaths every year from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), and measles. Global vaccination coverage—the proportion of the world’s children who receive recommended vaccines—has remained steady for the past few years.

WHO data

Key challenges

Despite improvements in global vaccine coverage during the past decade, there continue to be regional and local disparities resulting from:

  • limited resources;
  • competing health priorities;
  • poor management of health systems; and
  • inadequate monitoring and supervision.

In 2014, an estimated 18.7 million infants worldwide were not reached with routine immunization services such as DTP3 vaccine. More than 60% of these children live in 10 countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Nigeria and Pakistan, the Philippines, Uganda and South Africa.

Priority needs to be given to strengthening routine vaccination globally, especially in the countries that are home to the highest number of unvaccinated children. Particular efforts are needed to reach the underserved, especially those in remote areas, in deprived urban settings, in fragile states and strife-torn regions.

WHO is working with countries and partners to improve global vaccination coverage, including through these initiatives adopted by the World Health Assembly in May 2012.

The Global Vaccine Action Plan

The Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) is a roadmap to prevent millions of deaths through more equitable access to vaccines. Countries are aiming to achieve vaccination coverage of ≥90% nationally and ≥80% in every district by 2020. While the GVAP should accelerate control of all vaccine-preventable diseases, polio eradication is set as the first milestone. It also aims to spur research and development for the next generation of vaccines.

The plan was developed by multiple stakeholders—UN agencies, governments, global agencies, development partners, health professionals, academics, manufacturers and civil society. WHO is leading efforts to support regions and countries as they adapt the GVAP for implementation.

In April 2015, WHO warned that 5 out of the 6 GVAP targets were off-track, with only 1 target on the introduction of underutilized vaccines showing sufficient progress. This finding was based on the independent assessment report by the Strategic Group of Experts (SAGE) on immunization.

The GVAP recommends 3 key steps for closing the immunization gap:

  • integrating immunization with other health services, such as postnatal care for mothers and babies;
  • strengthening health systems so that vaccines continue to be given even in times of crisis; and
  • ensuring that everyone can access vaccines and afford to pay for them.