In celebration of the World Health Organization’s World Immunization Week (April 22-28), it’s time to talk vaccines—why we need them, how they’ve been successful, and which immunization schedule you should be following.
The theme of this year’s awareness week is #VaccinesWork, and there are stats to back up the claim. Most childhood vaccines are 90 to 99 percent effective in preventing disease, and immunization is estimated to avert 2 to 3 million deaths globally each year.
Just take a look at the measles. In 1980, before vaccination was widely available, measles caused approximately 2.6 million deaths each year. Vaccinations have resulted in a 79 percent drop in measles deaths from 2000 to 2015 worldwide. During this period, the vaccination prevented an estimated 20.3 million deaths.
However, the work isn’t done. An additional 1.5 million deaths could be avoided if global vaccination coverage improved. Despite the many advances in medical science, there still are 19.4 million unvaccinated and under-vaccinated children in the world. Many of the diseases they are vulnerable to are largely preventable.
In Pennsylvania, the immunization gap (the percentage of children ages 35 months to 19 years of age without all immunizations) is 27.2 percent, ranking Pennsylvania as number 26 in the country. Let’s continue to stand together and spread awareness about how vaccines work—and close the immunization gap.
Check out the American Academy of Pediatrics-recommended immunization schedule to make sure your family members are up to date on their vaccinations.