World Immunization Week is being celebrated countrywide from Monday in collaboration with all provinces and stakeholders to raise awareness about the importance of vaccination in protecting against diseases, said a spokesman for the Ministry of National Health Services and Coordination. This year’s theme ‘The Big Catch-up’ urges greater engagement around immunization globally to promote the role of vaccines in bringing people together, and improving the health and well-being of everyone, everywhere. In collaboration with provincial Expanded Programmes of Immunization and other stakeholders, the Federal Directorate of Immunization launched a week-long vaccination campaign in late April to raise awareness about the importance of vaccination in preventing infectious diseases, the spokesman said in a statement. In his message marking the start of World Immunization Week, the Federal Minister of Health, Abdul Qadir Patel, urged parents to vaccinate their children against 12 deadly diseases before the age of two. The ultimate goal of the Week is to protect more children from vaccine-preventable diseases and raise awareness about the value of vaccines. The government of Pakistan is committed to ensuring safe and effective vaccines are available and delivered to every child, including those in vulnerable and remote communities. The Minister expressed gratitude to frontline health workers and EPI teams for their tireless efforts in achieving this goal. The government is dedicated to ensuring that vaccination registration and availability reach 100% to guarantee the success of the immunization initiative. Frontline workers play an essential role in facilitating vaccination in remote and disadvantaged areas, and the government is undertaking all necessary measures to keep the public safe from diseases and epidemics. The Minister emphasized the importance of vaccination in preserving public health and urged parents to vaccinate their children against fatal diseases to safeguard their health in the future. The threat of polio still poses a danger to many children, making it imperative to provide access to polio vaccines during World Immunization Week. In his message, the Federal Secretary of Health, Dr. Muhammad Fakhr-e-Alam, stated that the ultimate goal of World Immunization Week is to protect more children from vaccine-preventable diseases, enabling them to live healthier and happier lives. Representing the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations, and Coordination, all stakeholders are urged to fulfill their responsibilities towards achieving the ultimate goal of universal immunization coverage (100% fully immunized children). This includes religious leaders, academia, doctors, media personnel, civil society organizations, parliamentarians, immunization partners, donor organizations, parents, and frontline health workers. World Immunization Week is an opportunity to remind families and communities about the effectiveness of vaccines and to encourage people to take action to ensure that more children, as well as people in other age groups as we are witnessing right now with COVID-19 vaccination, are immunized against deadly and debilitating diseases,” said Dr. Muhammad Ahmad Kazi, Director General of Federal Director of Immunization, to mark the beginning of the week. “We know that a significant number of unimmunized children come from urban slums, hard to reach and security compromised areas. These children are in dire need of basic services such as primary health care, education, clean drinking water and sanitation. We now have to focus our resources to find novel means to trace these unvaccinated zero-dose children,” he added. “Polio still threatens the futures of too many children today. This World Immunization Week let’s protect all children with polio vaccines, especially those who have never been vaccinated. Because until we End Polio for good, polio anywhere puts everyone at risk.” said Dr Shahzad Baig, Coordinator National Emergency Operations Center. “We’re striving to make sure kids in even the most marginalized areas can access polio vaccines, other essential care, and a healthier future,” he added. Routine childhood immunization is a set of inoculations, given from birth to the age of 15 months. Completing the schedule protects children from 12 diseases that are preventable through vaccines, such as tuberculosis, polio, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, haemophilus influenza type B, hepatitis B, diarrhoea, pneumonia, typhoid, measles and rubella. The entire course is provided for free by the government’s EPI with support from global and technical partners, like Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, WHO and UNICEF. “Vaccines bring us closer to community cohesion and compassion. With equal access to lifesaving vaccines, children can attend school, grow into healthy adults, parents can make their livelihood, and communities can thrive into a prosperous healthier society,” said Dr. Palitha Mahipala WHO Representative in Pakistan World Immunization Week is a reminder that timely vaccination is the first line of defense against communicable diseases’ said Abdullah Fadil, UNICEF Representative in Pakistan. Reiterating UNICEF’s resolve to vaccinate every child in Pakistan, he said, “Vaccine save millions of lives every year, especially those of children who are more susceptible to due to low immunity. Vaccination is a safe and effective way to help them survive, thrive and reach their full potential in life.