Tirana 24 April,2019 - World Immunization Week is celebrated each year at the end of April to raise awareness on the benefits of immunization and build a positive sentiment around immunization. On 24–30 April 2019, we celebrate the vaccine heroes: countless individuals – from scientists to parents, from nurses to bloggers – who each play a part in helping to immunize the people. This event is celebrated by Ministry of Health and Social Protection, Institute of Public Health and support by WHO and UNICEF.
Vaccines protect children against disease and death, saving up to three million lives every year or more than five lives saved every minute. Despite clear evidence around the power of vaccines to save lives and control disease, millions of young children around the world are missing out, putting them and their communities at risk of disease and deadly outbreaks. This is unacceptable in a world where affordable, lifesaving vaccines exist. Vaccination acts as a protective shield, keeping families and communities safe. By vaccinating our children, we are also protecting the most vulnerable members of our community, including newborn babies.
In Albania, vaccination coverage of children aged 0-14 years, remains commendably high at 97 per cent; however, there are pockets of lower vaccination coverage especially for the measles containing vaccine with rates below 95%. Sustained efforts are needed to address disparities in immunization coverage, prioritize the hard-to-reach population groups, including Roma children, and maintain public trust in immunization.
“UNICEF and its partners are working to ensure that the lives of all children are protected. Health personnel should provide trusted and reliable information on vaccines to parents, including parents who feel a sense of complacency or hesitancy around vaccination” -says Roberto De Bernardi, UNICEF Representative in Albania.
WHO Regional Director for Europe Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) Director Dr Andrea Ammon issued a joint statement illustrating the need for individual commitment and international collaboration: “We cannot ignore the children and adults who are not yet protected. Contagious diseases do not respect national borders, and efforts to control them cannot stop there either.”
The Ministry of Health and Social Protection in Albania funds 100 per cent of the National Immunization Program vaccine procurement and expansion of the immunization schedule with new vaccines on a continuous basis. WHO and UNICEF in Albania have been a long-standing partner of the Ministry of Health, supporting the efforts of the Albanian Government in strengthening national immunization services, polio eradication (Albania was declared polio free since 2002), measles elimination activities, communication for immunization, and strengthening of the country’s cold chain system.
UNICEF is the world’s largest buyer of vaccines with 2,35 billion doses of vaccines procured during 2018. UNICEF will continue to support the Ministry of Health and Social Protection of Albania with vaccine procurement services.
Video about immunization.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/albania.