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Celebrating Breakthroughs in Vaccination during World Immunization Week

April 30, 2021

During World Immunization Week, health care organizations around the world are highlighting the benefits of vaccines to help prevent COVID-19 and an array of other infectious diseases that are now preventable thanks to breakthroughs in immunization.

Celebrated annually during the last week of April, World Immunization Week reinforces how “vaccines bring us closer” and improve health and well-being around the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has added another layer to this year’s celebration, as vaccination will play a critical role to help bring an end to the global pandemic.

This year, public health officials emphasize that vaccines are safe and incredibly effective against serious and life-threatening illnesses such as COVID-19, measles, mumps, whooping cough, and hepatitis.

“It is essential that all Pennsylvanians not only get the COVID-19 vaccine, but remember the importance of staying up to date on all recommended immunizations,” Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam said this week. “Vaccines are a safe and effective way to protect yourself from a number of serious, life-threatening diseases.”

During World Immunization Week, HAP and other health care organizations continue to emphasize:

  • Vaccines are among the greatest public health success stories, helping to eradicate smallpox and nearly eliminating wild poliovirus. The number of people who experience the devastating effects of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, diphtheria, and whooping cough is at an all-time low
  • There are now vaccines to prevent more than 20 life-threatening diseases
  • Immunization prevents between two million and three million deaths every year, according to the World Health Organization  
  • A recent real-world study indicated that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines were 94 percent effective against COVID-19 hospitalization among fully vaccinated adults 65 and older

Many people in Pennsylvania can access vaccines for free, the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) notes. Any child or adult who meets the criteria for vaccination and does not have insurance coverage can receive vaccines at one of the state health centers, local health departments, federally qualified health centers, or any state Vaccines For Children providers.

Residents should contact their medical provider to check if they are up to date on their vaccinations, the DOH said.

“Staying current with your immunizations is an important step to protect yourself and your loved ones against serious diseases,” said Dr. Denise Johnson, Pennsylvania’s acting physician general. “Immunizations provide protection that is needed by both children and adults to help them stay as healthy as possible.”

More information on the routine immunizations that children and adults should receive to protect themselves from various serious illnesses is available online.

HAP continues to encourage everyone to stay up to date on their vaccinations and to receive the COVID-19 vaccine if they are 16 or older. Vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect you and the people you love.

For more information about World Immunization Week, contact Mary Catanzaro or Clare Edelmayer, HAP’s project managers, infection prevention.