World Immunization Week is April 24-30

Immunization can save millions of lives each year.

That’s the most important message the World Health Organization (WHO) wants you to know during World Immunization Week, which is observed April 24-30.

World Immunization Week grew from a local and international grassroots effort. The goal of the public health campaign is to raise awareness and increase the rates of immunization against vaccine preventable diseases.

This year’s World Immunization Week theme is “Protected Together, #VaccinesWork.”

Now, perhaps more than ever, immunization is vital, especially with the recent virulent H3N2 flu virus that has swept the country and afflicted an alarming number of childen and older adults.

Image: Shutterstock.com

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the 2017-2018 flu season has been particularly bad.

As of February 10, 2018, more than 21,000 people were admitted to hospitals with confirmed cases of influenza, and at least 97 children have died.  Although flu activity peaks between December and February, CDC officials say this year’s strain could last as late as May.  In California alone, there have been eight influenza-related deaths reported among people of age 0-64 years according to the California Department of Public Health.

But, don’t panic.

While it’s always best to get vaccinated before the flu season begins, the CDC is still urging adults as well as children to get flu vaccinations. For adults, it takes about two weeks after the vaccination is administered for the antibodies to kick in and offer protection against the flu.  Children should start the vaccination process early in the season because according to the CDC, children aged 6 months through 8 years require two doses of the vaccine, which need to be administered at least four weeks apart.

While some may debate the merits of immunization, WHO officials acknowledge that immunization is one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions that prevents nearly two to three million deaths every year and not just from the flu, but other vaccine-preventable diseases including: cervical cancer, diphtheria, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, pertussis (whooping cough), pneumonia, polio, rotavirus diarrhea, rubella and tetanus.

As always, the goal of World Immunization Week is to provide people and communities with information and access to the long-term benefits of immunization. In addition, organizers believe donors and individuals can play an integral role in driving home the message for the need of vaccinations both locally and globally.

World Immunization Week is also a great opportunity for families to ensure their immunizations are current and up to date.

To verify your doctor’s license, check the Medical Board of California’s website at www.mbc.ca.gov if the doctor is an M.D., or the Osteopathic Medical Board of California’s website at www.ombc.ca.gov if the doctor is a D.O.

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