The Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) was initiated in 1974 in The Americas, based on the WHA 2757 resolution passed by the World Assembly of Health. Its purpose was to improve immunization coverage and to decrease morbidity and mortality caused by vaccine preventable diseases through vaccination. Specific goals were to eradicate in determined time periods poliomyelitis, measles, neonatal tetanus, to eliminate tuberculous meningitis in children four years and younger, diphtheria, and tetanus. This article presents up to date information on vaccination coverage trends between 1990 and 1998 in 13 countries of the American Region, briefly describes implementation of surveillance programs required for appropriate monitoring of vaccine impact, and discusses the changes observed in morbidity attributable to vaccine preventable disease in these countries during four periods, 1968 before the existence of EPI, 1978, four years after its introduction, 1988 and 1998. Although much remains to be done, the impact of EPI in the Americas has been outstanding in decreasing morbidity caused by vaccine preventable diseases.
- Communicable diseases
- Immunization programs