Colombia celebrated the National Day of Vaccination on Saturday with hundreds of children and women lining up to receive preventative shots against at least 26 diseases.
As part of Vaccination Week of the Americas (SVA), the Ministry of Health donated at least 1 million doses of vaccines to local clinics across the region for children under the age of 11 and women of childbearing age, 10 to 49.
Entitled the Expanded Immunization Program (PAI), with this initiative the Medellin mayoral office aims to supersede its 2017 goal and target some of the most common pediatric illness, such as diphtheria, rubella, polio and chicken pox.
"The challenge for this year is to reach vaccination coverage of 95 percent, especially in children under six years," said the municipal department.
The distribution of medical aid has proven successful, with governments across the continent adopting the week-long health event. Since the SVA's conception 16 years ago, over 720 million people have been vaccinated against rubella, congenital rubella and the measles.
Medical reports also show a significant decrease in diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough due to the rise in immunizations.
Although the majority of diseases itemized on the vaccination list are no longer prevalent in Latin America, experts warn that some changes to common immunizations should be considered for developing countries.
Brazilian pediatric infectious disease specialist Luiza Helena Felleiros, together with her colleague Uruguayan infectious disease expert Hugo Dibarboure, say the crippling polio virus could be due for a return because the common oral vaccine lasts a maximum of 30 years.
"In the case of people who received the doses of the oral vaccine as a baby, the viruses lodge in the intestines and mutate. That person will not necessarily develop polio, but can infect other people with compromised immune systems or who are not protected," Dibarboure said, noting that one carrier could affect more than 200 people.
Felleiros and Dibarboure are currently campaigning to discontinue the oral vaccine and assess any damage connected to its use.