China launches National Vaccination Week to step up full immunization
Beijing, 25 April, 2011 – "I closed my eyes and didn’t look at the needle," said eight-year-old Tao Tao, a second grade boy in suburban Beijing, who is a little nervous before receiving a shot in his arm for vaccination.
But he knows this will help protect him and ensure that his dream of "becoming a company chief executive who can donate money to help people in the disaster-affected areas" will be realized. He is a migrant child from Hunan Province who now lives in Xinfadi, the largest farm produce wholesale market of Beijing.
The Ministry of Health today launched a national vaccination initiative at an event hosted in Xinfadi Primary School to ensure that children, especially those affected by migration like Tao Tao and those living in remote areas can be fully vaccinated against preventable diseases.
Leading international agencies working on immunization in China, UNICEF and WHO, are helping to support the call for maximum participation in the national campaign. Yang Lan, UNICEF Ambassador in China, was also on hand to support the nationwide immunization promotion effort.
From today, a week-long intensive advocacy campaign themed "Vaccination, Healthy Baby", is to disseminate key messages on immunization to the public. This is the first time China has joined other countries and regions to celebrate the week.
"The Expanded Progamme of Immunisation (EPI), first introduced in 1978 in China has protected hundreds of millions of children against diseases such as polio, neonatal tetanus, measles and other diseases that continue to threaten children elsewhere." Ms Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative to China Office said.
Now all Chinese children can be offered vaccines against 12 infectious diseases free of charge. Aggressive vaccination initiatives have kept China polio-free and have dramatically reduced the rate of Hepatitis B and measles. As China nears the elimination of neonatal tetanus and measles, and strives to improve coverage of recently introduced vaccines, more intensive efforts are required.
According to the Ministry of Health, although the national average vaccination rate has reached 90%, there are still nearly 1 million children not timely immunized, and circulation of measles infection are still reported in pocket areas, especially in the lesser-developed western regions and urban migrant communities. China remains in the top ten countries worldwide with the largest unvaccinated populations.
"All unvaccinated children carry with them a higher risk of disease and a higher risk of transmission of disease to others…China must continue to strive to vaccinate all of its children, and it is immensely important that the general public and the media support this effort." Ms Gillian Mellsop said.
"When my children were young, I kept their vaccination history booklets at home, which told me the immunizations they received and which I should take them to get." Ms. Yang Lan, well known broadcast journalist and UNICEF China Ambassador told the children and parents at the launching ceremony.
"With good health, there are a rainbow of opportunities for you to realize your dreams. Here I appeal to every child and parent in the Country to put vaccination high on your family agenda. When your dreams all come true, I will be there to cheer for you." Yang Lan said.
In 1979 UNICEF officially commenced its cooperation with the Government of China. Since then, one of UNICEF China's top priorities has been to support the Government’s immunization programme development, including the provision of cold chains, IT equipment and training of health staff in remote western regions and migrant communities. UNICEF will continue to work with government partners to ensure the full and quality coverage of child immunisation.