World Immunization Week: Power of vaccines still not fully utilized, says UN health agency

Vaccinations stave off 26 potentially deadly diseases, the United Nations health agency is emphasizing on the first day of World Immunization Week, which also marks the halfway point of the Organization’s goal to stop millions of deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Vaccines are one of modern medicine’s major success stories – tackling infectious diseases by making people immune or resistant, stimulating the body’s own immune system – having prevented at least 10 million deaths between 2010 and 2015, stresses Dr. Margaret Chan, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), in a press release.

At the same time, the full potential of vaccines is still not fully utilized, underlines the UN health agency, reiterating that when immunization rates are high, the wider community is protected, including infants who are too young to receive their vaccines, older adults at risk of serious diseases and people who take medication that lowers their immune systems.

WHO warns that the target of all 194 countries that signed the agency’s global action plan to eliminate vaccine-preventable diseases by 2020 is behind schedule. The list with preventable diseases includes measles, rubella, and maternal and neonatal tetanus.

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