The Pan American initiative has reached more than half a billion people over the past 13 years. Its success inspired the creation of World Immunization Week

Washington, D.C., 22 April 2015 (PAHO/WHO) — More than 60 million girls and boys, men and women in 45 countries and territories are expected to get vaccinated against measles, rubella, polio, pneumonia and other diseases starting this Saturday as part of Vaccination Week in the Americas (April 25 to May 2), the flagship regional initiative of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

Vaccination. Boost your Power! #getvaxSince it began in 2003, Vaccination Week in the Americas has taken the benefits of vaccination to more than 519 million people in the Western Hemisphere.

"Vaccination Week in the Americas began 13 years ago as an effort among many countries, and now it has become a global health initiative," said PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne. "It is a clear example of what can happen when our region's countries work together, regardless of our different languages and cultures, toward the common goal of protecting the health of all our peoples."

Thanks to high vaccination rates, the countries of the Americas have been global leaders in controlling and eliminating vaccine-preventable diseases. The region was the first in the world to eradicate smallpox (in 1971) and to eliminate polio (in 1994) and expects in the near future to be certified as having eliminated measles and rubella. Other vaccine-preventable diseases, including diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, have also been substantially reduced throughout the hemisphere.

"Maintaining high immunization rates in our region is essential to protect these public health achievements and to advance toward new milestones," said Dr. Cuauhtemoc Ruiz, head of PAHO's Comprehensive Family Immunization program. "Vaccination Week in the Americas is an important part of our region's efforts to keep coverage rates high and to ensure that more vulnerable and remote communities share the benefits of immunization."

"Boost your power!"

The slogan for this year's campaign is "Boost your power! Get Vaccinated!" highlighting how vaccines boost the immune system to help people fight off more than 20 different diseases. The slogan also suggests the importance of completing one's vaccination schedule by getting "booster" shots when recommended, such as for measles, pertussis, polio and tetanus.

One of the major objectives of Vaccination Week in the Americas every year is to reach out to groups that otherwise have limited access to health services and are at increased risk of contracting vaccine-preventable diseases. These include residents of urban fringe areas, indigenous communities, and people living in rural and border areas.

"Vaccination Week provides an opportunity not only to raise awareness of the importance of vaccines but also to make vaccines available to the people and communities who need them most," said Ruiz.

#GetVax +Social Good

This year's regional launch of Vaccination Week in the Americas will take place in Duran, Ecuador, with the participation of Ecuador's minister of health, the director of PAHO/World Health Organization and representatives of UNICEF, UNAIDS, the United Nations Development Program, the Sabin Institute and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among other partners.

Together with the United Nations Foundation, PAHO/WHO will host a #GetVax +Social Good webcast from the site of the regional launch.

What: #GetVax +Social Good

When: Saturday, April 25, 2015

English: 8:30-9:00 a.m. Quito time (9:30-10:00 a.m. Washington time; 10:30-11:00 a.m. Buenos Aires time);
Spanish: 9:15-9:45 a.m. Quito time (10:15-10:45 a.m. Washington time; 11:15-11:45 a.m. Buenos Aires time)

Where: Livestreamed from Guayaquil, Ecuador
Join us:
Hashtags: #GetVax #BoostYourPower

Also on April 25, PAHO Assistant Director Francisco Becerra will present the 2014 PAHO/WHO Immunization Award to the Local Comprehensive Healthcare System (SILAIS) of Matagalpa, Nicaragua, for its success in ensuring high vaccination rates through integrated immunization and follow-up efforts.

On April 24-30, more than 180 countries and territories around are expected to participate in the 4th annual World Immunization Week, a global initiative that was inspired in part by the success of Vaccination Week in the Americas. This year's global campaign calls on countries to "Close the immunization gap" that leaves 1 in 5 children in the world missing out on routine life-saving immunizations.

PAHO/WHO and Vaccination Week in the Americas

PAHO engages in technical cooperation with its member countries to organize and carrying out Vaccination Week in the Americas, providing assistance with planning, resource mobilization, social communication campaigns, procurement of vaccines and supplies, and evaluation. The PAHO Revolving Fund also provides key support for Vaccination Week by helping PAHO member countries pool their resources to procure high-quality vaccines, syringes and other supplies at the lowest prices.


PAHO, founded in 1902, is the oldest international public health organization in the world. It works with its member countries to improve the health and the quality of life of the people of the Americas. It also serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of WHO.


Vaccination Week in the Americas

World Immunization Week

— Video: Boost your power! Get vaccinated! Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, Vaccination Week in the Americas 2015

— #GetVax #BoostYourPower