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PAHO Launches 'Advances in Immunization' Book

Washington, D.C., December 4, 2006 (PAHO)—The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) today issued a new publication, "Recent Advances in Immunization 2nd edition," that "provides the strategies and tactics to help us reach the goals of sustaining our immunization achievements and reaching the people who have not benefited from existing and new vaccines," according to Dr. Jon K. Andrus, PAHO's lead technical advisor on immunization and one of the book's two editors.

Drs. Andrus and de Quadros
The editors of "Recent Advances in Immunization 2nd edition," Dr. Jon K. Andrus (left,) and Dr. Ciro de Quadros.

Dr. Ciro de Quadros, director of international programs at the Sabin Vaccine Institute and the other editor of the new publication, said "This is a very timely book with details on some new vaccines that haven't been introduced yet. We are witnessing great advances in science and technology but not all mankind is benefiting from them. We hope this book will help make these new technologies available."

The publication covers topics of adolescent and adult immunization, combination vaccines for children, vaccination safety, measles and rubella, new and under-used vaccines, the HPV vaccine against cervical cancer, and preparations for the influenza pandemic.

PAHO Director Dr. Mirta Roses, in a preface to the book, notes that in the Americas, immunization has been responsible for a fourth of the reduction in childhood mortality since 1990. "Immunization, already regarded as a 'best buy' public health intervention, is now believed to have even more far-reaching economic impact, such as in better education outcomes and more years of productive life."

The book is aimed at national immunization managers and public health professionals, including students, epidemiologists, disease control specialists, surveillance personnel, and others.

Dr. Orin Levine, Director of the Pneumococcal Vaccine Development and Introduction Project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said at the book's launching, "Now that we have this book, I hope we will be able to further accelerate the uptake of new vaccines like HiB, pneumococcal vaccine, and influenza."

Levine, author of the combination vaccines chapter, said the number of new vaccines is increasing and even more are in the pipeline, noting that the U.S. childhood vaccination schedule now covers 12 vaccines requiring between 18 and 21 separate injections to complete the required doses. New combination vaccines can reduce the number of shots needed but, he writes, "The great variety of available combination vaccine options poses a challenge for the clinician who must keep current with new knowledge about the antigens in the combinations, let alone the commercial names."

Drs. Andrus and de Quadros noted in the book's introduction, "Thanks to the work of immunization programs throughout the Region's countries, the peoples of the Americas now live free of indigenous polio and measles; neonatal tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis have been well controlled; and new vaccines have been added to national immunization programs and their application has been sustained."

While "progress has been extraordinary-diseases have been eradicated or eliminated and the public health infrastructure has been strengthened-but progress has been uneven. Some countries still have a significant proportion of their populations living in districts where coverage remains below 95 percent. Sporadic outbreaks of diphtheria and pertussis still occur because of an accumulation of susceptibles missed by routine national programs. This accumulation also puts countries at risk for large measles outbreaks when importations of measles virus occur, as has recently happened in Mexico (2003-2004), Venezuela (2001-2002), and Colombia (2002)."

"Reaching children and families who live in low-coverage areas will be essential for sustaining the success of measles elimination and for achieving the targets to eliminate rubella and congenital rubella syndrome," Andrus and de Quadros say, adding that to reach immunization targets "some countries will need to seriously consider the introduction of new or underutilized life-saving vaccines. Vaccines targeting diseases caused by pneumococcus, rotavirus, human papilloma virus, and influenza may greatly help in reaching the Millennium Developing Goals and the targets outlined in World Health Organization's Global Immunization Vision and Strategy."

Reaching these targets, the editors note, will require that immunization programs evolve from targeting just children to including the whole family "to enable countries to attain higher vaccination coverage of adolescents and adults for influenza and human papilloma virus, as well as for human immunodeficiency virus and other diseases when future vaccines against them become available."

Launched today in English, Recent Advances in Immunization also will be published in Spanish, French, and Portuguese. For more information on how to obtain the new book, please visit PAHO Publications page.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) was established in 1902 and is the world's oldest public health organization. It serves as the regional office of the World Health Organization, and works with all the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of their peoples.

For more information please contact , PAHO, Public Information, 202-974-3459.

Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization
525 Twenty-third Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037, United States of America
Tel.: +1 (202) 974-3000 Fax: +1 (202) 974-3663

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