The annual event takes place this year between 21 and 27 April and will see 52 European countries plan activities in support of the message that immunisation of every child is vital in saving lives.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of Europe being declared a polio-free region thanks to vaccination.
Public Health Wales is reminding parents that other childhood diseases like measles could also be eradicated if vaccine uptake targets are met.
Siobhan Jones, Consultant in Public Health for Public Health Wales, said: “Polio has been eradicated across Europe because of vaccination. If 95 per cent of children in Europe were vaccinated with MMR, measles could also become a disease of the past.
“However, this target isn’t being met in many areas – including North Wales where we know that 11 per cent of five-year-olds are not fully vaccinated.
“The recent measles outbreak in the Porthmadog area gives a stark reminder of the risks if not enough people are vaccinated.
“The MMR vaccine is safe and effective and protects against mumps and rubella as well as measles. Although the first dose should be given just after one year of age and the second before a child starts school, it is never too late to catch up.
“We are using European Immunizations Week to urge parents across North Wales to check whether their children are behind on any of their routine vaccinations, and arrange for them to catch up if they have not had all the vaccinations they should have received.”
This year’s Urdd National Eisteddfod in June is being held in North Wales, bringing people together from across Wales and further afield.
As young people throughout North Wales are preparing for the event, parents are reminded that it is not too late to protect their children against measles.
Siobhan Jones continues: “The Urdd Eisteddfod is a very enjoyable and popular event and we welcome it to North Wales.
“We want everyone to have a great time at the Urdd and this includes helping them to remain healthy. One way to do this is to make sure that you have had all of your vaccinations.”
Children who receive all their scheduled vaccinations between the ages of two months and 18 years will also be protected against diphtheria, polio, whooping cough, tetanus, meningitis C, pneumococcal infection and Hib (a bacterial infection that can cause severe pneumonia or meningitis in young children).
Since 2008, girls in school year 8 have also been offered three doses of the Human Papilloma Virus vaccine (HPV), which protects against one of the main courses of cervical cancer.
Siobhan Jones added: “The latest vaccine uptake figures show that in North Wales, uptake of many childhood vaccinations such as meningitis C and the 5 in 1 vaccine, are already exceeding the 95 per cent target, which is great news. But there is more work to do.”
There is evidence that childhood vaccinations have saved thousands of deaths since the introduction of routine immunisation.
One of the themes of this year’s European Immunization Week is a reminder that Europe has now been free of polio for a decade.
There are no longer any cases of diphtheria in the UK – which used to kill 3,000 people each year – and the Meningitis C vaccination programme has prevented 9,000 cases of disease and 1,000 deaths since it was introduced in 2000.
More information on European Immunization Week 2012 is available at: http://www.euro.who.int/en/what-we-do/health-topics/disease-prevention/vaccines-and-immunization/european-immunization-week
More information on the North Wales team of Public Health Wales is available at: http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/888/page/46346
More information on the Public Health Wales Vaccine Preventable Disease Programme is available at: http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sites3/page.cfm?orgid=457&pid=25355