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PAHO urges to recover vaccination coverage in the Americas

Washington, Apr 19 (Prensa Latina) PAHO urged the countries of the Americas to recover routine vaccination coverage, as today only 15 out of every 100 children in the region are partially protected against preventable diseases.

Although historically this region has been leader in mitigating diseases, vaccination coverage has dropped significantly for over a decade, Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) asserted.

Among causes are false perception that eradicated and controlled diseases no longer pose a risk to people’s health, that vaccination programs have fallen down the list of priorities and that misinformation has gone up since the Covid-19 pandemic.

On the verge of starting Vaccination Week in the Americas (April 20), Barbosa insisted on the pressing need to recover regional vaccination coverage, particularly for highly contagious diseases including measles given the surge in cases worldwide, which he described as “too worrying.”

Barbosa warned that regional nations further remain far from the 90% coverage rate needed to protect girls aged nine to 14 years against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which provides lifelong protection against cervical cancer, a leading cause of death among women.

In his opinion, in order to achieve this recovery, it is necessary to overcome challenges such as: increasing financial and technical resources to improve essential vaccination services, establishing effective communication strategies to tackle down on doubts about vaccines, and growing political commitment to routine vaccination programs.

The executive assured that PAHO is ready to support nations to strengthen disease surveillance, ramp up vaccination coverage rates in all corners of their national territory and to prevent outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases.