‘Vaccines work, use them to prevent disease and protect life,’ say HPA

Date published: 20 April 2011

Help us eliminate measles and rubella (German measles) by 2015. That’s one message from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) North West for European Immunisation Week that begins on Saturday (23 April 2011).

European Immunisation Week is an EC-wide initiative, co-ordinated by WHO (World Health Organisation) Europe, to raise awareness amongst health professionals and the public of the importance of immunisation.

The theme is that immunisation of every child is vital in order to prevent disease and protect life.

Dr. Sam Ghebrehewet, HPA North West’s Immunisation Lead, said: “Immunisation is the single most effective health protection tool available to us. It has been demonstrated time and time again over the years that vaccines really do work. They prevent disease and save lives.

“It’s thanks to immunisation that smallpox was eradicated from the world by the mid 1970s. Europe was declared free from the scourge of polio in 2002. We have seen a systematic year-by-year reduction in Group C meningococcal infection from 955 cases in the UK in 1998-99, the year an effective vaccine was introduced, to just 13 cases in 2008-2009.

“We see very few cases of diphtheria and tetanus these days and every year millions of people with risk factors for influenza protect themselves from the possibility of serious illness by having a flu jab. The HPV vaccine is protecting immunised girls against the viruses that cause 70% of cervical cancers.

“There is no doubt that the WHO target of eliminating measles and rubella from Europe by 2015 can be met if we can persuade parents to ensure that all children and young people are protected by two doses of MMR vaccine. It is an achievable target. Vaccination uptake rates are increasing and we have every reason to be hopeful.”

Dr. Ghebrehewet concluded by making a plea to health professionals and parents to recognise European Immunisation Week 2011 by renewing our commitment to ensuring that every child has the benefit of immunisation.

“If we can eliminate measles and rubella along the way it will be a wonderful by-product of our campaign,” he said.

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