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50 Years of Vaccine Progress: World Immunization Week 2024

April 24 - 30 is World Immmunization Week, a commemoration of the lifesaving vaccines that protect people of all ages against disease and disability. This year's theme is "Humanly Possible," emphasizing the success of vaccines over the past 50 years and encouraging continued investment in the cause over the next 50 years.


Next week marks a key moment in the realm of global health: World Immunization Week. Observed from April 24 to April 30, World Immunization Week serves as a reminder of the remarkable progress humanity has made in safeguarding global health through vaccines. From the eradication of diseases like smallpox to dramatic reductions in child mortality, investing in vaccines has helped ensure that everyone, everywhere has a shot at a healthy life.

Amidst the global rise in vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization rates that are still in the process of recovering to pre-pandemic levels, World Immunization Week serves as a crucial platform to raise awareness and highlight the importance of vaccination in protecting individuals and communities.  

The theme this year, “Humanly Possible” resonates deeply as a spark of optimism in turbulent times; the profound success of global vaccines over the past 50 years stands as one of humanity’s greatest achievements. Over 4 million deaths worldwide are prevented by childhood vaccinations every year, and we now see more children live to their first birthday than at any other time in human history—largely because of immunization.  

In recent years, the world has witnessed groundbreaking advancements in vaccine research, development, and distribution—akin to a “vaccine renaissance.” From the rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines, to the continued efforts to eradicate polio and measles, to innovative new vaccines against mosquito-borne diseases—including malaria—the power of immunization to save lives and drive progress cannot be overstated.  

However, despite these successes, significant disparities in vaccine access and uptake persist, threatening the health and well-being of millions, particularly in underserved communities. As we commemorate World Immunization Week, it is imperative that we reaffirm our commitment to equitable vaccine access and address the barriers that hinder immunization efforts globally. 

Each of us has a role to play in promoting vaccination and building trust in vaccines. Our success thus far has been built on cooperation, spearheaded by governments and the United Nations, with the help of scientists, healthcare workers, civil society, and volunteers. To ensure that the successes of the last 50 years continue forward over the next 50 years, ongoing investments are needed.  

This World Immunization Week, let us come together as a global community to celebrate the power of vaccines that protect our health, our loved ones, and our future. Together, we can ensure that vaccines continue to bring us closer to a world free from the threat of preventable diseases. 

Stay tuned next week for more about World Immunization Week, including new insights into the true scope of humanity’s achievement with immunization. And be sure to register for our call-in day here to tell your policymakers why YOU support global immunization programs. 


Holly Pappano

Holly Pappano is the Communications Associate for the United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign. Prior to this position, she was an intern for United to Beat Malaria, Shot@Life’s sister campaign. Holly previously interned with Kinesso of Interpublic Group, spent time in South Korea as a fellow and ESL teacher, worked as an ambassador for the Study of the U.S. Institutes for Student Leaders, and more. She graduated from Miami University in May of 2023 as a triple-major in East Asian Languages and Cultures, Applied Linguistics, and Psychology, and has also studied at Xiamen University, the University of Glasgow, and the University of Seoul.