When launching the 20th PAHO Vaccination Week in the Americas and the 11th World Immunization Week, Dr. Etienne said the Americas is a global leader in successful eradication of smallpox, poliomyelitis, measles and rubella, and the early introduction of new immunizations against pneumococcus, human papillomavirus, rotavirus, among others.
“However, we cannot take our remarkable progress for granted. Inequitable access to Covid-19 vaccines and widespread vaccine hesitancy, have unmasked concerning fault lines along our regional scenario,” Dr. Etienne added, adding that this is a dilemma that must be addressed sooner rather than later.”
She also recalled that while they labored arduously to protect populations against Covid-19, their routine immunization programs were severely affected.
“In 2020, 2.7 million children in the Americas did not receive the essential vaccines needed to keep them healthy due to interruptions in health services caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. If this situation continues, we will pay an extremely high price in loss of life, increased disability, and enormous financial costs,” Dr. Etienne stressed.
She highlighted that the 20th Vaccination Week is a unique opportunity to spread and make known the messages to people about the significance of Covid-19 vaccines to save lives and generate a spontaneous demand for these products.
“I humbly ask you to implement equity-based solutions, or options affordable and available to everyone, especially to low- and middle-income people, regardless of their ability to pay,” she added.