UNICEF is launching a new global campaign on 24 April, called #Vaccineswork.
The objective of the campaign is to emphasize the power and safety of vaccines among parents and wider social media users.
The campaign will be running alongside World Immunization Week from 24 to 30 April to spread the message that together communities, including parents, can protect everyone through vaccines.
#VaccinesWork has long been used to bring together immunization advocates online. 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. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will contribute USD$ 1 to UNICEF for every like or share of social media posts using the hashtag #VaccinesWork in April, up to USD$1 million, to ensure all children get the life-saving vaccines they need. 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.
Vaccines save up to 3 million lives yearly, protecting children from potentially deadly, 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. 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," 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."
"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."
Why this campaign is much needed?
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 scepticism 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.
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. Available in Arabic, Chinese, French, Hindi, Russian, Spanish and Tagalog, the video 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.