To highlight World Immunization Week, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and the Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC), are raising awareness among the public of the importance of updating vaccines for diseases that can be vaccinated against. The theme for World Immunization Week this year is ‘#VaccineWorks’.
The three organizations are also advising those planning to perform the rites of Umrah or Hajj this year to begin the vaccination process for infectious viruses like pneumococcal, seasonal flu and meningococcal now, stating that they should not wait until ten days prior to travel.
Dr. Abdullatif Al Khal, Deputy Chief Medical Officer at HMC said immunization is the process whereby a person is made immune or resistant to an infectious disease, typically by the administration of a vaccine. “Vaccines stimulate the body’s own immune system to protect the person against subsequent infection or disease,” said Dr. Al Khal.
“Immunization prevents illness, disability, and death from vaccine-preventable diseases including cervical cancer, diphtheria, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, pertussis (whooping cough), pneumonia, polio, rotavirus, diarrhea, rubella and tetanus,” he said. He added that all babies born in Qatar receive scheduled immunization against diseases to ensure they are adequately protected.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are 19.4 million unvaccinated and under-vaccinated children in the world. Each year, over 1.4 million children die from diseases that could be prevented with readily available vaccines.
Dr. Hamad Eid Al-Romaihi, Health Protection and Communicable Diseases Manager at the MoPH said: “We are urging those who are vulnerable to infectious diseases such as children, pregnant women and the elderly, and those with chronic illnesses, to learn about vaccine-preventable diseases and make sure their vaccinations are updated according to WHO recommendations.”
Dr. Samya Al Abdulla, Executive Director of the PHCC’s Operation Department said: “The PHCC aims to deliver the best healthcare to the population. Part of this is ensuring disease prevention by providing scheduled vaccinations for all babies born in Qatar and ensuring access (to vaccines) for those who are not born here. Most vaccines are available free of charge across all of our primary health centers and can be accessed from 7am to 1pm and 4pm to 11pm, Sunday to Thursday.”
World Immunization Week – recognized during the last week of April each year– aims to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease. Immunization saves millions of lives and is widely recognized as one of the world’s most successful and cost-effective health interventions, according to the WHO.
The year 2017 marks the halfway point in the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) – endorsed by 194 Member States of the World Health Assembly in May 2012. The initiative aims to prevent millions of deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases by 2020 through universal access to immunization.