In commemoration of the 2023 World Immunization Week, Pfizer has reiterated the importance of vaccines and why continued vaccine innovation matters to preventing deadly diseases.
World Immunization Week is celebrated every last week in April to highlight the importance of vaccines and how they protect people of all ages against diseases, to provide opportunity for better livelihood.
Kodjo Soroh, Medical Director, Sub-Saharan Africa, Pfizer, stated that this year’s campaign comes at a critical turning point for immunization after over two years of backsliding caused by COVID-19 pandemic disruptions.
Hence, the need to catch-up, restore and strengthen immunization services to reach the millions of people missing out on the life-saving benefits of vaccines and stop outbreaks from accelerating.
In recognition of this historic moment for immunization, World Immunization Week 2023 will mark the beginning of a year-long campaign with the theme “The Big Catch-up,” representing a global push to vaccinate millions of children and return to pre-pandemic vaccination levels.
According to Pfizer, global vaccination coverage figures are looking up, but they still mask huge inequalities that the industry cannot afford to ignore. However, to help protect as many people as possible from life-threatening illness, the drug manufacturer is working to develop and distribute vaccines throughout the world.
Soroh disclosed that Pfizer has already seen that by channelling resources to the most promising public health opportunities, it can have an impact across all areas of life.
According to him, every year during World Immunization Week, Pfizer takes the time to celebrate the impact of vaccines, and this year is no exception even in the midst of heightened concern and apprehension around the status of vaccination programs around the world.
“At Pfizer, we have a long history in vaccine research and development, including a pivotal role in the eradication of polio and smallpox. Through the development of innovative delivery systems and technologies (the term often used is “novel vaccines”), we’ve created innovations for preventing deadly bacterial infections.” Soroh stated.
Speaking further on vaccine innovation, Soroh stated that Smallpox has been eradicated, while polio is nearly gone. According to him, Cervical cancer could become the first cancer to be eliminated.
“Vaccines underpin our global health security by preventing and controlling over 30 infectious diseases, reducing unnecessary hospitalizations and controlling infectious disease outbreaks.
“We should not forget that they are one of the world’s most powerful and cost-effective public health tools available and have successfully helped to eradicate, eliminate, and manage many deadly infectious diseases,” he stated.
According to Soroh, vaccines also play a critical role in combatting antimicrobial resistance. He said that vaccines can reduce antibiotic use by preventing bacterial infections in the first place, such as with the pneumococcal and meningococcal vaccines, and can also prevent viral infections such as flu, which can provoke secondary infections requiring antibiotics.
“Today, more than at any time in history, people are benefiting from safe and effective vaccines to prevent infections and diseases. These injections have protected people of all ages, from newborns to seniors.
“However, our work is not done. Many viruses and bacteria still present a serious health risk, and so we continue to focus on research and development in new areas, with the goal of adding more approved vaccines to tackle pathogens.
“By getting vaccinated, you can protect yourself and also avoid spreading preventable diseases to other people in your community. Some people cannot get certain vaccines because they are too young or too old or they have a weakened immune system or other serious health condition,” Soroh stated.