This week, everybody is invited to join us in celebrating World Immunisation Week, a campaign led by the World Health Organisation in the last week of April each year. 

With an array of vaccine-preventable infectious diseases on the rise, the World Health Organisation has declared immunisation as one of the most important health challenges of our time. In spite of this, Australia has been commended by the Public Health Association of Australia for its immunisation and disease elimination efforts, listed as one of the top 10 public health successes over the last 20 years.

Notably,Australia’s National Immunisation Strategy (NIP) 2013 – 2018 has achieved more than 90% immunisation coverage for all monitored age groups, and has successfully eliminated endemic measles in 2014 and the rubella threshold in 2018.

It is therefore fitting that this year’s World Immunisation Week theme is Protected Together: Vaccines Work!

In striving to create a world where vaccines are not unnecessarily feared, The World Health Organisation wants to celebrate the fact that there are many ‘vaccine heroes’ including parents, nurses, doctors, pharmacists and innovative public health professionals. ‘Vaccine heroes’ help ensure vaccines can be easily accessed, safely administered and are protective of even the most vulnerable members of society.

Immunisation is a vital public health initiative that we at VIVA! Communications are very supportive of endorsing as part of our work in healthcare public relations. Despite recognising annual flu vaccination is the most effective way to prevent the potentially deadly virus from spreading, we were recently shocked to learn that nearly 1-in-10 Aussie adults hospitalised with the flu end up in intensive care.

However, appreciating the bigger picture, immunisation plays a crucial role in achieving 14 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Immunisation directly impacts poverty reduction, protects the vulnerable immune systems of malnourished children who are likely to die of vaccine-preventable infectious diseases such as measles and pneumonia, and is one of the most cost-effective ways of ensuring we can all live longer and healthier lives.

As an incentive, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will contribute $US1 to UNICEF for every like or share of social media posts using the hashtag #VaccinesWork throughout the month of April, up to a total of $US1 million.