National Immunization Awareness Week


22 April 2024

Each year, Canada recognizes National Immunization Awareness Week (NIAW), which is a time to raise awareness of the importance of immunization and the positive impact immunization has on protecting public health and saving lives.

The theme of this year’s NIAW is “Protect your future. Get immunized!”, and highlights the importance of staying up to date on recommended vaccinations so that everyone can have the chance to live healthier lives protected against preventable diseases.

Though vaccination coverage in Ontario has remained relatively stable for many years. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic immunization coverage has decreased for Ontario’s routine infant and childhood immunization programs (including measles vaccine) and school-based immunization programs.

This year NIAW takes place on from April 22 to 30 and coincides with the World Health Organization’s World Immunization Week, which aims to highlight the collective global action needed to protect people from vaccine-preventable diseases around the world.

This year World Immunization Week celebrates 50 years of the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), which is a global endeavor focused on ensuring equitable access to vaccines for all children against six childhood illnesses regardless of their geographic location or socioeconomic status, which has now grown to 13 universally recommended vaccines across the lifespan.

In Ontario, measles has been rare due to high immunization coverage both provincially and across the country. As a result, measles cases are usually associated with travel. Due to an increase in measles activity globally, Ontario has begun to see more cases.

The contagious nature of the measles virus combined with increased global travel, the decrease in childhood measles immunization coverage during the pandemic, may increase the risk of measles spread in Ontario. Staying up to date on recommended routine vaccinations is very important in preventing infection.

Achieving and maintaining high immunization coverage is essential for effective prevention and control of vaccine preventable disease. Immunization is the best way to protect against measles. Vaccines are very safe and can prevent illness, including acute severe illness, hospitalization and death, as well as serious and long-term complications from measles.

In response to the increase in measles cases in Ontario, and Canada, Public Health Ontario (PHO) has released multiple measles resources. Visit our dedicated measles page on our website for more information.

PHO’s Role in Immunization in Ontario
Immunization is widely recognized as one of the greatest public health achievements of the twentieth century. Vaccines save lives, can prevent illness, including acute severe illness, hospitalization and death, as well as serious and long-term complications. Immunization programs are an important foundation of Ontario’s health care system.

PHO provides scientific and technical expertise and resources to clients working in government, public health, health care, and related sectors, in immunization and public health management of vaccine-preventable diseases and conducts surveillance of immunization programs in Ontario, including surveillance of vaccine safety and vaccine preventable diseases and assessment of immunization coverage. PHO also hosts the Ontario Immunization Advisory Committee (OIAC), a multidisciplinary scientific advisory body that provides evidence-based advice to PHO on vaccines and immunization matters including vaccine program implementation in Ontario, priority populations, and clinical guidance. The focus of the Committee’s work is on publicly-funded vaccines and immunization programs in Ontario, and those under consideration for new programming.

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Published 22 April 2024