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preventable diseases have gone from 6 to 20 (but too many geographical disparities remain)

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preventable diseases have gone from 6 to 20 (but too many geographical disparities remain)

World Immunization Week 2024: Importance of Vaccinations for Public Health

As World Immunization Week 2024 kicks off from April 24 to April 30, the focus is on the critical role of vaccinations in ensuring public health and achieving herd immunity. The global vaccination programs, initiated by the World Health Organization (“Expanded program on immunization”) in 1974, celebrate their fiftieth anniversary this year, having expanded to all countries worldwide. These programs have significantly increased the number of diseases preventable through vaccinations from 6 to 20.

Despite the progress made, disparities in vaccination coverage persist, with over one million children globally lacking access to vaccination programs. The theme for this year’s World Immunization Week is “Humanly possible,” emphasizing that every individual effort can make a difference in promoting vaccination awareness and coverage.

In addition to traditional vaccines, other tools like monoclonal antibodies and breastfeeding play a crucial role in preventing communicable diseases. Monoclonal antibodies, such as palivizumab and nirsevimab, help protect newborns against respiratory syncytial virus, a leading cause of bronchiolitis and other respiratory infections in children and adults.

The Italian Society of Neonatology, along with other medical organizations, is advocating for universal prophylaxis of respiratory syncytial virus diseases for all newborns in Italy. The benefits of breastfeeding are also highlighted, as breast milk provides essential antibodies that protect infants and support their developing immune systems.

In Italy, vaccination coverage remains a concern, with certain mandatory and recommended vaccines, including the anti-HPV vaccine, falling short of targets. The latest data from the Higher Institute of Health (ISS) indicates a decline in measles vaccination coverage, potentially contributing to the resurgence of measles cases in the country.

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As the world continues to combat infectious diseases and work towards achieving global health security, World Immunization Week serves as a reminder of the importance of vaccinations in safeguarding individuals and communities against preventable diseases. Together, through continued advocacy and action, we can strive towards a healthier and more resilient future for all.

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