ANSA/ WHO Europe launches vaccines week, says don’t drop guard


Rome, April 20 – Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, the WHO Regional Director for Europe, said that the authorities must
keep attention high on vaccinations amid the coronavirus emergency as European Immunization Week got underway on Monday.
“The COVID-19 situation in the European Region remains very concerning,” Kluge said.
“We must not, especially now, let down our guard on immunizations”.
Immunization Week runs until April 26 under the slogan ‘vaccinating is of vital importance to preventing illness and protecting life’.
The aim is to increase vaccinal coverage by raising awareness of the importance of immunization among parents and care givers, health professionals, politicians and the media.
It is supported by national and regional partners, including Unicef and the European Centre for the Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
“Access to vaccines for all has transformed our societies, but it is a public good that must be maintained to be effective, even in difficult times,” said Kluge in a video message released on Monday.
“Our overstretched health systems cannot bear any outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases.
“The health and economic consequences of this pandemic are affecting everyone.
“The most vulnerable, who are often left behind by immunization services, should not suffer the added burden of
vaccine-preventable diseases”.
These include measles which, he said, “affected over 100 000 young and old in Europe last year.
“This virus has not gone. It will resurge again if we do not do everything in our power to stop it”.
European Immunization Week is organized in collaboration with other WHO regional initiatives and with World Immunization Week, which will take place April 24-30 with the famous #vaccineworks hashtag.
“It is important to keep up vaccinations, including, and especially, during the epidemic,” said Gianni Rezza, the
director of the infective-diseases department of Italy’s Higher Health Institute (ISS).
“Otherwise we risk adding old problems to a new phenomenon, causing the resurgence of infective diseases that had previously been prevented and controlled by vaccines”.

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