The United Nations Children’s Fund is set to launch a new global campaign tagged ‘‘#Vaccines Work’’, to emphasize the power and safety of vaccines among parents and wider social media users.
The UN agency says, Vaccines Work is an initiative that has long been used to bring together immunization advocates online.
The campaign will be launched on April 24th and is expected to run alongside the World Immunization Week beginning from 24th to 30th of April.
UNICEF expects the program to help spread the message that ‘‘together communities, including parents, can protect everyone through vaccines’’.
According to UNICEF, immunization coverage in Nigeria was only 57.2% in 2018; this data is far below the 90 percent target of Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP).
For every like or share of social media posts using the hashtag #VaccinesWork this April, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will contribute one million US dollars (USD$1 million) to UNICEF.
Vaccines save up to 3 million lives yearly, protecting children from potentially deadly and highly infectious diseases such as measles, pneumonia, cholera, and diphtheria.
According to UNICEF, fewer people died from measles between 2000 and 2017 and polio is currently on the verge of being eradicated, making vaccines one of the most cost-effective health tools ever invented –
‘‘Every USD$1 spent on childhood immunization returns up to USD$44 in benefits’’UNICEF.
“We want the awareness that #VaccinesWork to go viral,” said Robin Nandy, UNICEF’s Chief of Immunization. “Vaccines are safe, and they save lives. This campaign is an opportunity to show the world that social media can be a powerful force for change and provide parents with trustworthy information on vaccines.”
The campaign is part of a global, week-long celebration under the theme, Protected Together: Vaccines Work, to honour Vaccine Heroes – from parents and community members to health workers and innovators.
According to the Interim Director of Vaccine Delivery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Violaine Mitchell, ‘‘More children than ever before are being reached with vaccines today,”
‘‘We are delighted to work with UNICEF and all the global and country partners around the world who are working tirelessly to ensure all children, especially those in the world’s poorest countries, can be protected from life-threatening infectious diseases.” She says
Despite the benefits of vaccines, an estimated 1.5 million children died of vaccine-preventable diseases in 2017. While this is often due to lack of access to vaccines, in some countries, families are delaying or refusing to vaccinate their children because of complacency or skepticism about vaccines.
This has resulted in several outbreaks, including an alarming surge in measles, especially in higher-income countries. Uncertainty about vaccines on digital and social media platforms is one of the factors driving this trend.
However, the clear benefit of vaccines was evident in Nigeria’s fight against polio, where vaccines were crucial in eradication efforts.
‘‘Nigeria has been free of any case of wild polio virus since September 2016 and is on track for being declared polio-free by the end of this year. The success of polio vaccines in eliminating polio has, among other factors, been linked to the low cost and oral administration route of vaccines, enabling mass delivery’’.