Manaus, Brazil, 30 April 2011 (PAHO) - Brazilian Minister of Health Alexandre Padilha and PAHO's Director Dr. Mirta Roses participated in the launching ceremony of Vaccination Week in the Americas in Manaus, Brazil, on April 30th.

{YT}LnWpRheirhM,300,199,r{/YT}The city of Manaus, capital of the Amazonas state, was chosen to highlight the importance of vaccination in indigenous communities and other at-risk populations in the Amazon Basin. The slogan for this year's Vaccination Week in the Americas—"Vaccinate your family, protect your community"—encourages vaccination not just of children but of entire families and highlights the importance of individual action to protect collective health.

On Tuesday of this week, Dr. Roses participated in a binational launch between Peru and Bolivia, which took place in Kasani, along the two countries' shared border. She was joined by the ministers of health of both countries. She praised the efforts of health ministries throughout the Americas leading up to and during Vaccination Week in the Americas and called on the media to help promote the initiative. "One hopes that in the future, there will be many vaccines and, looking forward, that Bolivia will have a vaccination law similar to what Peru has now," she said.

"From here, facing Lake Titicaca, we have the potential to mobilize the entire world. This place is marvelous and very symbolic because it is the summit of our America. From here we make an appeal about the importance of continuing to vaccinate, for the health and lives of everyone. Vaccination is the right of every family and an essential tool for preventing many devastating diseases. During its nine-year history in the Region of the Americas, Vaccination Week has become a key initiative to emphasize the extraordinary importance of vaccination for public health," said Dr. Roses.

Now in its ninth year, Vaccination Week in the Americas promotes immunization as one of the most cost-effective public health measures available and works to expand access to its benefits, particularly for vulnerable groups. To date, more than 323 million children and adults throughout the Americas have been vaccinated within what is now the region's largest multi-country health effort.

This year, 45 countries and territories are targeting some 41 million children and adults with vaccines against preventable diseases including polio, measles, rubella, mumps, diphtheria, whooping cough, neonatal tetanus, influenza and yellow fever.

In Brazil, the Ministry of Health is emphasizing vaccination against influenza, using a triple vaccine that protects against type A influenza-including H1N1-and type B influenza.

PAHO's Vaccination Week in the Americas 2011 is supported by UNICEF, the Canadian International Development Agency, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Spain's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, among others. 

PAHO, founded in 1902, works with all the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of their peoples. It also serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO).