Home » Measles, whooping cough and other preventable diseases: a week to remember the importance of vaccines

Measles, whooping cough and other preventable diseases: a week to remember the importance of vaccines

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Measles, whooping cough and other preventable diseases: a week to remember the importance of vaccines

Imagine a future without cervical cancer, a future without polio, measles or malaria. Is it humanly possible? Yes, bringing vaccinations to everyone. With the slogan #HumanlyPossiblepart the World Immunization Week 2024which takes place from 24 to 30 April, promoted by WHO (World Health Organization), Unicef, Gavi – the Vaccine Alliance and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This year is particularly significant because we are celebrating fifty years of the Expanded Immunization Programme, the initiative launched by the WHO in 1974. A precious opportunity to remind families and the community of the effectiveness of vaccines and encourage people to act to ensure that more children and adults are immunized against preventable diseases.

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An achievement of humanity

Over the last 50 years, vaccines have saved over 150 million lives, one every ten seconds. Thanks to the Expanded Program on Immunization, governments, humanitarian agencies and health workers have achieved one of humanity’s greatest achievements: a world in which we have eradicated smallpox and nearly eradicated polio, in which more children than ever before in history they can live beyond their early years, regardless of their geographic location or socioeconomic status. Even today, however, not everyone has access to vaccinations, and the pandemic, wars and natural disasters do not make the situation any easier. Even in high-income countries there is a reduction in vaccination coverage with a consequent increase in infections, especially in children. Just think of what is happening with measles.

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New cases of measles and whooping cough in Italy

In fact, the Italian Society of Pediatrics (SIP) reports that from the beginning of the year to the end of March 2024, 213 cases of measles were reported in Italy, of which 26.3% reported at least one complication, such as pneumonia, and in one case even encephalitis. 88% of patients were not vaccinated at the time of infection. “High vaccination coverage is the only defense tool – he comments Annamaria Staianopresident of SIP – “The highest incidence was observed in the age group between 0 and 4 years”.

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Even with regards to whooping cough, since the beginning of this year we have been witnessing a worrying increase which would be preventable with a vaccine, he says Rocco Russohead of the technical vaccination table of the SIP: “Whooping cough is an infectious disease that does not confer permanent immunity, so we must try to combat it with high levels of vaccination coverage over time, carrying out the necessary boosters”. These Italian data are in line with those notified by other European countries from the beginning of 2024.

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Reach everyone

Reach those who are not yet eligible for vaccines. To do this, the strategy of the Expanded Immunization Program is to ask governments around the world to prioritize investments in vaccinations, so that vaccines are guaranteed throughout life. Furthermore, he wants to ensure that vaccination programs are adequately funded and implemented in all countries. Finally, support research and innovation to improve access and support for vaccines and engage the population at local, national and global levels. By investing in vaccination it will be possible to reach all people in the world with life-saving vaccines, regardless of where they live.

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