Posted on April 23, 2018

The Medical Director of Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Communicable Disease Center (CDC) says World Immunization Week is an opportune time to raise awareness about the importance of disease prevention through vaccination.

Immunization is the process whereby a person is made immune or resistant to an infectious disease, typically by the administration of a vaccine. Vaccines stimulate the body’s own immune system to protect the person against subsequent infection or disease. Dr. Muna Al Maslamani, Medical Director of the CDC, says HMC is intensifying its efforts to raise awareness of vaccine-preventable diseases as part of its annual recognition of World Immunization Week.

Under the slogan ‘Protected Together, #VaccinesWork’, this year’s World Immunization Week, being held from today until 30 April, focuses on the importance of expanding access to routine immunization as a building block for disease prevention, a strong primary healthcare system, and overall good health. “Routine vaccines are our greatest tool in the battle against infectious diseases. They are an affordable and effective means of protecting not just individuals but whole communities from debilitating diseases by making people immune or resistant to them by stimulating the body’s own immune system. Immunizations help keep our wider community protected, especially our most vulnerable citizens – children, pregnant women, older adults, and patients with chronic diseases,” says Dr. Al Maslamani.

According to Dr. Al Maslamani, Qatar follows the World Health Organization's vaccine schedule and offers vaccinations against a number of diseases to all children living in the country. She says immunizations are an effective and affordable means of protecting individuals and whole communities from a number of diseases, including hepatitis A and B, diphtheria, measles, mumps, pertussis (whooping cough), pneumonia, polio, rotavirus, rubella, and tetanus. “Immunization prevents illness, disability, and death from vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccines have eliminated some of the most dangerous and fatal diseases in human history and virtually eradicated others. HMC’s recognition of World Immunization Week highlights our commitment to raising awareness of the importance of immunizations, which includes complying with recommended immunization schedules, and increasing global access to vaccines,” added Dr. Al Maslamani.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are 19 million unvaccinated and under-vaccinated children around the world. Each year, over 1.4 million children die from diseases that could be prevented with readily available vaccines. Last year, the CDC officially opened its Travel Clinic. Offering travelers counseling, vaccinations, and other preventative measures, the clinic also provides certificates of vaccination (required for travel to some countries) and assessments for travelers returning from abroad with travel-related infections. Last year the clinic received 418 patients, ranging in age from five months to 71 years. Typhoid, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), hepatitis A and B, yellow fever, and the seasonal flu vaccinations were among the most requested immunizations.

“Depending on the destination, travelers may be at risk of a number of vaccine-preventable illnesses. It is important to consult your healthcare provider or visit a travel health clinic to seek specialized advice. In general, vaccines for measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, polio, hepatitis A and B and the yearly flu shot are recommended. Some additional vaccines for yellow fever, rabies, and diphtheria may also be required for travel, depending on the country being visited, the trip duration and planned activities,” said Dr. Al Maslamani.