European Immunization Week

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European Immunization Week (EIW) is an annual regional initiative, coordinated by the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe (WHO/Europe), to promote immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases. EIW activities are carried out by participating WHO/Europe member states. In the past these have included: disseminating informational materials about immunization, organizing immunization campaigns, organizing training sessions for health care workers, arranging workshops or conferences with political decision makers to discuss immunization, and holding press conferences about immunization-related issues.

EIW takes place each year in April. The initiative has spread from the Americas and Europe to become a global immunization effort known as World Immunization Week.[1] The initiative promotes the message that immunization of every child is vital in order to prevent diseases and protect life.[2] The EIW slogan is: Prevent. Protect. Immunize.

As stated by WHO/Europe, the goal of EIW is threefold: to increase vaccination coverage across the European Region by raising public awareness about the benefits of immunization; to support national immunization systems; and to provide a framework for mobilizing public and political support for immunization efforts. Partner organizations involved in EIW include, but are not limited to, UNICEF, the Measles Initiative and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).


The first EIW was conducted in October 2005 by the WHO/Europe and a number of Member States across the Region.[3] The European Immunization Week (EIW) is an annual initiative to raise awareness, improve communication and advocate immunization across the WHO European Region.[4]

EIW started out of a concern that immunization is becoming less valued because of the decline in the incidence of, and reduced fear of infectious diseases.[4] Consequently, the coverage rates have declined in many countries across the WHO European Region; this has resulted in large, sporadic disease outbreaks. Average coverage rates vary greatly between Member States, however vulnerable groups exist all over the Region. This reduction in coverage rates have been influenced by media scares and groups/individuals opposed to immunization. Also, immunization often suffers from low political commitment due to competing health priorities.

EIW has the goal to increase vaccination coverage by drawing attention to increasing awareness of the importance of every child’s need and right to be protected from vaccine preventable diseases. This initiative targets parents and caregivers, health care professionals and policy makers; with a special focus is placed on activities targeting vulnerable groups.[3]1p2r90 e91r3 2oqjwr 7awplp12oi61[2140=-1 qdi12eoAI WEEN0Q

Themes of European Immunization Week[edit]

2016 : “Close the immunization gap”[edit]

EIW 2016 will take place in 24–30 April 2016. EIW 2016 will highlight progress being made towards elimination of measles and rubella, while also pointing to the remaining gap between those who are protected and those who sadly remain vulnerable to these diseases.

2015: “Commitment to immunization- How can Europe free itself from vaccine-preventable diseases?”[edit]

Immunization has saved more lives than any other public health intervention, yet 2013 saw 31 685 measles cases alone in Europe, an increase of 348% compared to 2007. The cost of these outbreaks in both human and monetary terms is extremely high. To move closer to WHO’s vision of a European Region free of vaccine-preventable diseases, a new and innovative approach is needed, as set out in the European Vaccine Action Plan 2015–2020 (EVAP).[5]

EIW 2015 marked the 10th European Immunization Week, which took place on 20–25 April 2015. It highlighted examples of innovative practice in Member States, where new policies and initiatives addressed the key factors affecting immunization decisions: complacency, confidence, convenience and access. Communication and advocacy activities celebrated the progress achieved so far- particularly towards elimination of measles and rubella, maintaining the Region’s polio-free status, and introduction of new vaccines. It also focused on what immediate action needed to be taken to maintain commitment and achieve the Region’s ambitious immunization goals.Narrative Report: European Immunization Week 2015.

2014: "Immunization for Life"[edit]

EIW 2014 took place on 22–26 April 2014. It highlighted the need for and protection provided by vaccination in infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, parenthood and old age. Activities organized at national and local level throughout the European Region raised awareness among health care workers, policy-makers, parents, grandparents and other individuals of the benefits of full immunization. A summary of activities that took place is available on the WHO/Europe website. Narrative report: European Immunization Week 2014.[6]


EIW 2013 took place on 22–27 April 2013. In addition to awareness-raising activities organized by individual Member States, a series of guest bloggers contributed to the EIW campaign site and information materials were published on the Immunization Resource Centre of the WHO/Europe website. Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, patron of the WHO Regional Office for Europe, made a video statement in support of European Immunization Week and World Immunization Week. The EIW 2013 Narrative Report provides a summary of EIW 2013 activities.

2012: " Increase demand for immunization"[edit]

EIW 2012 took place on 21–27 April 2012. This year, marked the first time that all 53 Member States in the WHO European Region took part simultaneously, hosting a large array of immunization awareness activities. This marked a milestone in the initiative’s seven-year history. Such widespread support was particularly critical for the Region as Member States work to eliminate measles and rubella by 2015 and to maintain Europe’s polio-free status. The vital role of health workers, as the most trusted source of information about vaccines, was also in focus.

2011" Shared solutions to common threats"[edit]

EIW 2011 took place on 23–30 April 2011. This year theme highlighted the importance of collaborating and sharing both experiences and solutions for achieving immunization goals, such as eliminating measles by 2015, maintaining the polio-free status of the Region and keeping all vaccine-preventable diseases under control in the European Region. The theme was selected in the wake of polio outbreaks in the European Region in 2010. The outbreaks have clearly illustrated that when vaccine-preventable diseases spread; shared borders lead to common threats. Therefore, one of the best ways to combat these threats is by sharing responsibility for immunization, particularly on a sub-regional level. Of the 53 Member States in the WHO European Region, 52 participated in European Immunization Week 2011. The Regional launch of the initiative was attended by Princess Mathilde of Belgium in her first year acting as Special Representative for Immunization for the WHO Regional Office for Europe.[7]


European Immunization Week was initiated in 2005 with six pilot countries. In 2009 had the participation of 36 countries in the WHO European Region and featured an animated YouTube video[8] that was viewed more than 10,000 times in a two-week period.[9] By 2010, 47 countries in the WHO European Region participated.[10]

EIW Royal Patron[edit]

Crown Princess Mary of Denmark is the patron of the WHO Regional Office for Europe and, as such, has participated in activities related to European Immunization Week. She became Patron of WHO/Europe in 2005. In 2006 she described her commitment to public health issues in the WHO European Region, and her plans to focus on specific areas of WHO/Europe’s work to generate greater awareness in Europe, where poor health, suffering and lack of access to basic medical services were an everyday reality for many. At the launch of EIW 2008, she stated, “It is the right of every child to grow up healthy, and vaccinated against those diseases that can so easily be controlled. I hope that the countries within the region will act quickly and effectively to ensure that children and adults, especially those in vulnerable and hard-to-reach groups, have access to immunization and basic health services.” [11]

In September 2012, Princess Mary participated for the first time in a WHO Regional Committee session outside Copenhagen, Denmark where she emphasized her commitment to immunization and maternal and child health within the framework of the Millennium Development Goals. In April 2013 she made a video statement in support of European Immunization Week and World Immunization Week. In 2014 on World Polio Day, Princess Mary and Ms Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, visited Tajikistan. Princess Mary commended both the Government of Tajikistan and WHO on their collaboration and continuing efforts to improve reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health in the country. In 2015, she made a statement promoting immunization and encouraging the Region to immunize, advocate, and generally contribute to achieving immunity for all.

See also[edit]