Vaccination Campaign Kicks Off Along U.S.-Mexico Border
Washington, D.C., July 30, 2004 (OPS)—The Second Vaccination Week in the Americas kicks off along the U.S.-Mexico border tomorrow, in a drive to immunize children that live in the U.S. counties on the frontier with Mexico.
The initiative, which starts Saturday and continues through August 6, includes campaigns to promote vaccination, health fairs, and different community events, focusing especially on marginalized areas, rural zones, areas with high migratory populations, poor sectors and indigenous populations.
The objective is to improve immunization coverage in that region of the country, since the U.S. Border States have lower vaccination coverage, at an average of 70 percent for children under 3 years old, than national standards, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This effort, called Border Immunization Week, is the continuation of a hemisphere-wide vaccine drive last April, which marked the first time all countries in the Americas carried out immunization activities at the same time.
Many children who live along the border–one of the most heavily transited in the world - still die from diseases that are vaccine-preventable. High vaccination coverage aims to reduce the risk of vaccine-preventable diseases, reduce inequities in health, and improve the access to health services.
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona will participate in the vaccine week, and is scheduled to hold a news conference in San Diego August 5 to raise awareness of the importance of timely childhood immunization in the border area. Other participants include Sandra Shewry, director of the California Department of Health Services; Dr. Rosemary Johnson of the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission, and Greg Cox of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.
A year-long strategy for the vaccination programs will culminate in the third vaccination week this October, when sister cities in Mexico, which have already carried out two vaccination weeks this year, will join in. The effort aims to unite both countries to ensure a healthy border.
From El Paso to Presidio, in Texas; from Naco, Arizona, to San Diego, California, in Dona Ana County, New Mexico, and all along the border health workers will seek to ensure each child is fully immunized, with the idea that no one is left behind.
Multiple agencies are collaborating in this initiative, which encompasses the three weeks of vaccination, including the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission, state and local health departments on the border, the Secretariat of Health of Mexico and the CDC.
One of the main points of the Healthy Border 2010 program, adopted by Mexico and the U.S., is "Immunization and Infectious Diseases – expand immunization coverage for young children as well as reduce the incidence of hepatitis and tuberculosis."
PAHO, since its founding in 1902, has worked to improve the health and quality of life of the people of the Americas, and to promote children's health. It also serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization.