Some 1.5 million children died of vaccine-preventable diseases in 2017 – UNICEF

UNICEF will be launching a new global campaign on 24 April to emphasize the power and safety of vaccines among parents and wider social media users. Despite the benefits of vaccination, some 1.5 million children died of vaccine-preventable diseases in 2017.

The campaign which would run alongside World Immunization Week from April 24 to 30 seeks to spread the message that together communities, including parents, can protect everyone through vaccines.

A statement issued in Accra by UNICEF Ghana and copied to the Ghana News Agency said the campaign would use social media to educate people especially parents to trust vaccines to protect their children.

The #VaccinesWork campaign had long been used to bring together immunization advocates online.

The campaign is an opportunity to show the world that social media could be a powerful force for change and provide parents with trustworthy information on vaccines.

It stated that this year, UNICEF is partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization (WHO), and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to encourage even greater reach.

It said the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation would contribute $1 to UNICEF for every like or share of social media posts using the hashtag #VaccinesWork in April, up to $1 million, to ensure all children get the life-saving vaccines they needed.

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

“Thanks to vaccines, fewer people died from measles between 2000 and 2017 and polio is on the verge of being eradicated.

In Ghana, deaths due to vaccine preventable diseases have reduced and, in some cases, eliminated.

Since 2008, Ghana has not reported a single confirmed case of wild polio and no death has been recorded due to measles since 2003.

Vaccines are one of the most cost-effective health tools ever invented – every $1 spent on childhood immunization returns up to $44 in benefits.” It stated.

“We want the awareness that #VaccinesWork to go viral,” said Mr Robin Nandy, UNICEF’s Chief of Immunization. “Vaccines are safe, and they save lives”.

It said the campaign forms part of a global, week-long celebration on the theme, “Protected Together: Vaccines Work”, to honour Vaccine Heroes – from parents and community members to health workers and innovators.

“More children than ever before are being reached with vaccines today,” said Violaine Mitchell, Interim Director of Vaccine Delivery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“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,” it added.

The statement said 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, it said.

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.

That is why the centrepiece of this UNICEF campaign is a 60-second animated film, “Dangers,” which, along with illustrated animations for social media posts and posters, is based on the relatable insight that kids, by their very nature, are little daredevils who are constantly putting themselves in danger.

The video is available in Arabic, Chinese, French, Hindi, Russian, Spanish and Tagalog, it explains that while parents can’t prevent all the dangers their kids get themselves into, they can use vaccination to help prevent the dangers that get into their kids.

In addition, UNICEF experts will be answering questions about vaccination, including how vaccines work, how they are tested, why children should receive vaccines, as well as the risks of not vaccinating children in a timely manner.

Source: GNA

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