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Despite Vaccination Gains, 1.2 Million Children in the U.S. Under One Are Unprotected

Despite Vaccination Gains, 1.2 Million Children in the U.S. Under One Are Unprotected

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) reports that 15 out of every 100 children in the Americas are only partially protected against vaccine-preventable diseases. PAHO Director, Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, has emphasized the need for continued efforts to recover routine vaccination coverage, especially in light of decreased coverages over the past decade.

Dr. Barbosa highlighted several factors contributing to the decline in vaccination coverages. These include a false perception that eliminated and controlled diseases no longer pose a risk, a reduction in the prioritization of vaccination programs, and the rise in disinformation, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic.

While progress has been made in recovering lost ground, particularly for highly contagious diseases like measles, Dr. Barbosa emphasized that more needs to be done. Countries are still far from the 90% coverage rate needed to protect girls ages 9 to 14 against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which provides lifelong protection against cervical cancer.

To recover regional vaccination coverage, countries must increase financial and technical resources for vaccination services. They also need to establish effective communication strategies to tackle vaccine hesitancy and increase political commitment to routine vaccination programs.

PAHO stands ready to support countries in strengthening disease surveillance, increasing vaccination coverage rates, and avoiding outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. The Revolving Fund for Access to Vaccines provides countries with safe and quality vaccines at affordable prices. Additionally, PAHO’s regional vaccine production platform supports regional manufacturing of vaccines, improving access for regular programs and emergencies.

Vaccination remains crucial in protecting against vaccine-preventable diseases. As Vaccination Week in the Americas approaches, the focus is on engaging communities to protect their future through vaccination. With efforts to reach more than 83.5 million people with almost 156 million doses, the importance of vaccination in ensuring an active and healthy life is highlighted.

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