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Disease outbreak: UNICEF to inaugurate global campaign on vaccine safety

Doosuur Iwambe, Abuja

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has revealed it plans to inaugurate a new global campaign on vaccine safety that would go alongside the World Immunization Week.

The campaign which will be launched from April 24 to 30 according to UNICEF was prompted by the growing outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases,

Mr Robin Nandy, UNICEF’s Chief of Immunization. said this in a statement that the campaign is to emphasise the power and safety of vaccines among parents and wider social media users.

According to the statement, the campaign tagged #VaccinesWork, will spread the message that collaboration with communities, including parents can protect everyone through vaccines.

Nandy noted that UNICEF will use social media in its campaign to show that most parents trust vaccines to protect their children.

According to the him, vaccines save up to 3 million lives yearly, protecting children from potentially deadly, highly infectious diseases such as measles, pneumonia, cholera and diphtheria.

Nandy further noted that fewer people died from measles between 2000 and 2017, adding that polio is on the verge of being eradicated.

“This year, UNICEF is partnering with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization (WHO), and Global Alliance for Vaccines (GAVI) and the Vaccine Alliance to encourage even greater reach.

“The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will contribute USD$1 to UNICEF for every like or share of social media posts using the hashtag #VaccinesWork this month up to USD$1 million, to ensure all children get the life-saving vaccines they need.

“Vaccines are one of the most cost-effective health tool ever invented – every USD$1 spent on childhood immunization returns up to USD$44 in benefits. “We want the awareness that #VaccinesWork to go viral.

“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,” Nancy said.

Also, Violaine Mitchell, Interim Director of Vaccine Delivery at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said the campaign was part of a global, week-long celebration under the theme, “Protected Together: Vaccines Work”.

He said it was to honour Vaccine Heroes from parents and community members to health workers and innovators.

She noted that in spite of the benefits of vaccines, an estimated 1.5 million children died of vaccine preventable diseases in 2017.

According to him, 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, she noted, has resulted in several outbreaks, including an alarming surge in measles, especially in higher-income countries describing uncertainty about vaccines on digital and social media platforms as one of the factors driving this trend.