WHO releases virus for Immunization Week

April 22, 2009

For its fourth European Immunization Week (EIW) the World Health Organization (WHO) is, for the first time, leveraging innovative Internet-based viral techniques and social media to advocate for immunization across Europe. The initiative, taking place in 36 countries from 20-26 April, is spearheaded by an animated YouTube video. launched today, that aims to spread the EIW message virally or “word-of-mouse” as well as drive traffic to an informative website. Social networking sites Facebook, BKontakte and Studivz are being used to reinforce the message.

This, a ground-breaking approach for WHO, comes at a time when Europe’s immunization programmes are facing grave new challenges: the effectiveness of vaccinations in reducing the incidence of what were once common diseases have led to public misapprehension with regard  to vaccines. A combination of complacency and scepticism has allowed for the persistent propagation of misinformation, facilitated by online discussion fora and blogs.

Meanwhile, 423 000 European children were unvaccinated last year for diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DTP vaccine) and 633 000 children did not receive their first dose of measles vaccine, resulting in one new measles case every hour.  The campaign seeks to counter this worrying development, stressing that immunization is every child’s right and vital in protecting from disease.

The social media based initiative covering countries from Tajikistan to Ireland, has been developed by M4ID, together with Laundry.

For more go to the EIW site.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGKrs1ED_rw&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.euro.who.int%2Feiw2009&feature=player_embedded]