World Immunization Week 2020 - “#VaccinesWork for All”
World Immunization Week is a global initiative organised by the World Health Organization (WHO) in the last week of April (24-30 April) aiming to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against vaccine preventable diseases. This year’s theme “#VaccinesWork for All” focuses on how vaccines as well as the people who develop, deliver and receive them are vaccine champions by working to protect the health of everyone, everywhere. Amid the ongoing global pandemic of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), it is paramount to ensure children would not miss out life-saving vaccinations.
#VaccinesWork for All
Immunisation has been recognised as one of the most successful, safe and cost-effective health interventions and protect millions of people each year globally from serious and often deadly diseases including measles, hepatitis B and even some forms of cancer. In Hong Kong, with the long-established childhood immunisation programme, polio was eradicated locally in 2000 after global smallpox eradication in 1980; while the number of cases of measles and rubella reduced drastically from several thousands in the 1980s and 1990s respectively to a low level of less than a hundred in the recent decade.
As recommended by the Scientific Committee on Vaccine-preventable Diseases under the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health (DH), children from birth to primary six should receive different types of vaccines and boosters under the Hong Kong Childhood Immunisation Programme to protect them from tuberculosis, poliomyelitis, hepatitis B, diphtheria, whooping cough (pertussis), tetanus, pneumoccal infection, chickenpox, measles, mumps and rubella. To prevent cervical cancer, starting from the 2019/20 school year, eligible female primary school students are provided with human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to prevent cervical cancer.
Immunisation and COVID-19
Everyone in the community can be a vaccine champion – individuals, parents, healthcare professionals and other people from different walks of life can work together to allow full potential of the vaccines to keep everybody safe in the community. Such efforts must continue during the COVID-19 pandemic, for example the Maternal and Child Health Centres (MCHCs) of DH continue their immunisation services with enhanced infection control measures. On the other hand, parents play important role to ensure their children would not miss out any doses according to the recommended schedule while observing necessary precautions (e.g. do not bring children to MCHCs if there is fever or any respiratory symptoms).