USAID Celebrates World Immunization Week
New York: The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is proud to recognize World Immunization Week, a week that highlights the lifesaving importance of vaccines. Routine immunizations represent one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions, saving millions of lives each year and protecting children, pregnant women, and people of all ages from emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.
For 60 years, USAID has supported the development of new vaccines, the distribution and uptake of underused vaccines, and the strengthening of routine immunization programs to ensure all people, regardless of where they are born, are fully immunized and protected against an increasing range of infectious diseases. Last year, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic reminded us of what we already knew: widespread, equitable immunization programs are critical to sustain gains and prevent future outbreaks.
COVID-19 has highlighted the challenges for ensuring equitable access to vaccines. Yet, equitable access to routine immunization services is not a new public health challenge. Over the last decade, immunization coverage has been stagnating—and even declining—in many countries, putting everyone, including many children, at risk. In 2019, nearly 20 million children globally did not receive their complete immunization series, of which more than 13 million never received a single protective vaccine dose. The pandemic, through disruptions to essential services, has exacerbated routine immunization gaps, leaving many children vulnerable to serious diseases like measles and polio. Poverty, low education rates, geographic barriers, social exclusion, and humanitarian crises remain challenges to fully protecting women, children, and families around the world and ensuring no one is left behind.
This year’s World Immunization Week offers us the unprecedented opportunity to recommit to routine immunization and build widespread trust in the value of safe and effective vaccines. Transforming global momentum around COVID-19 vaccines into long-term support for equitable access to routine immunization and stronger health systems is key to building back a better, more resilient world.