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Celebrating World Immunization Week at the UK Parliament

A parliamentary event held by Global Citizen, RESULTS and Save the Children launched a joint scorecard on immunization. The report published by RESULTS and Save the Children, is described by RESULTS as "a new immunization equity scorecard" that highlights "the countries where children are missing out and the considerable challenges that must be tackled to address inequalities and exclusion on the path to achieve universal immunization coverage."

The event, which took place on Wednesday, May 27th, was held during World Immunization Week to highlight the urgent need to reach every child with life-saving vaccines.  

At the event a panel discussion was led by Dr Philippa Whitford MP (pictured above), who highlighted that immunization is "the single most cost-effective means to eradicate poverty." Both a medical doctor and a member of Parliament, she has seen the importance of immunization first-hand.  Citing her experience providing medical care to patients in Gaza, she emphasised the role of vaccines in building strong health systems. 

Results UK Head of Policy and Advocacy, Amy Whalley, opened the conversation using the example of polio eradication efforts to showcase the impact routine immunization can make.  Despite the incredible progress made against polio, 1 in 5 children around the world miss out on immunization against preventable disease, so Whalley emphasised the need for "further, faster and fairer" immunization programmes.  

Damon Bristow, the head of Health Services at the UK Department for International Development reaffirmed Britain’s commitment to improving access to vaccines worldwide.  Reflecting on the success of Nigeria’s fight against polio, he used the country’s rapid containment of the ebola virus to demonstrate the impact vaccination programmes can have on wider health infrastructure. 

Alan Brooks, Director of Health Systems and Immunization Strengthening at Gavi, praised the UK’s role in polio eradication efforts and its commitment to increasing immunization coverage in the hardest to reach areas. He emphasised the need for sustainable financing to achieve the ambitious, but vital, goal of reaching every last child. 

Finally, Dr. Andrew Pollard, Professor of Paediatric Infection and Immunity at the University of Oxford, shed light on the importance of herd immunity, and why vaccinating a child halfway across the world affects us all. 

The discussion ended with a Q&A from the audience, including questions from MP Jim Shannon on how to ensure health clinics are more than "shiny buildings," and from MP Tommy Shepppard, who asked how the private sector and pharmaceutical companies could improve access to vaccines. 

Putting immunization on the agenda of key parliamentary figures, the event was a powerful reminder of why vaccines work.