UNICEF is scheduled to launch a global campaign on April 24 to emphasize the power and safety of vaccines amongst parents and social media users.
The campaign, which will run alongside World Immunization Week from April 24 to 30 and aims to spread the message that together, communities, including parents, can protect everyone through vaccination.
#VaccinesWork will be launched in collaboration with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, World Health Organisation (WHO), and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to encourage 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 #Vaccines Work in April, up to USD 1 million, to ensure that life-saving vaccines are administered to all children.
"We want the awareness that #VaccinesWork to go viral", stated UNICEF's Chief of Immunization Robin Nandy.
"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."
UNICEF stated that vaccines save up to three million lives every year, protecting children from potentially deadly and highly infectious diseases such as measles, pneumonia, cholera and diphtheria.
Vaccines were responsible for the decline in the number of deaths caused by measles between the years 2000 and 2017. Moreover, Polio is on the verge of eradication due to vaccines as well.
According to UNICEF, vaccines are one of the most cost-effective health tool ever invented, as every USD 1 spent on child immunization returns up to USD 44 in benefits.
"More children than ever before are being reached with vaccines today", said Interim Director of Vaccine Delivery at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Violaine Mitchell.
"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."
UNICEF revealed that despite the benefits of vaccines, an estimated 1.5 million children died in 2017 of vaccine-preventable diseases. The main reasons for this outcome are lack of access to vaccines and families delaying or refusing to vaccinate their children.
Moreover, UNICEF reported that refusal to vaccinate children has resulted in several outbreaks, including an alarming surge in measles especially in higher income countries. The organization states that uncertainty about vaccines on digital and social media platforms is one of the factors driving this trend.
Due to this, the centrepiece of UNICEF's campaign in a 60-second animated film "Dangers", available in various languages, explaining that parents can use vaccination to prevent the dangers that gets into their kids.
For the duration of the campaign, UNICEF experts will also 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.
Operating in over 190 countries across the globe, UNICEF works to improve the lives of the world's most disadvantaged children. The organization currently carries out activities such as engaging communities to create vaccine demand, procuring and distributing vaccines, and keeping vaccines safe through cold chain logistics.