EU and WHO join forces to promote the benefits of vaccines

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MOSCOW, RUSSIA SEPTEMBER 4, 2019: A mobile flu vaccination centre. Vladimir Gerdo/TASS (Photo by Vladimir GerdoTASS via Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – SEPTEMBER 10: A measles vaccine is prepared on September 10, 2019 in Auckland, New Zealand. The New Zealand health ministry confirmed 1,051 people have were affected between 1 January and 5 September, 2019. The bulk of cases have been in Auckland in Auckland as health authorities and the Prime Minister implore people to ensure they are vaccinated against the disease. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

The European Commission and the World Health Organization (WHO) are co-hosting the world’s first Global Vaccination Summit in Brussels. The aim is to accelerate global action to stop the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases and advocate against the spread of vaccine misinformation worldwide.

According to the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, “It is inexcusable that in a world as developed as ours, there are still children dying of diseases that should have been eradicated long ago.’’

“Vaccination already prevents 2-3 million deaths a year and could prevent a further 1.5 million if global vaccination coverage improved. Today’s summit is an opportunity to address this gap,” Juncker says.

WHO also raises concerns of measles resurging. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, says  “We can and must get back on track. We will only do this by ensuring everyone can benefit from the power of vaccines – and if governments and partners invest in immunization as a right for all, and social good. Now is the time to step up efforts to support vaccination as a core part of health for all.”

Opening the summit, President Juncker and Dr. Tedros called for an urgent intensification of efforts to stop the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles. In the past 3 years, 7 countries, including 4 in the European region, have lost their measles elimination status. New outbreaks are the direct result of gaps in vaccination coverage, including amongst teenagers and adults who were never fully vaccinated.

To tackle vaccination gaps effectively, the summit addressed the multiple barriers to vaccination, including rights, regulations and accessibility.

The European Commission and the World Health Organization also urged for strong support of GAVI, the Global Vaccine Alliance. GAVI plays a critical role in achieving global vaccine goals in the world’s least-resourced countries.

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