During World Immunization Week in April 2021, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and former English soccer player, David Beckham, led a global vaccination campaign. Beckham’s mission was to decrease vaccine hesitancy and “encourage parents around the world to vaccinate their children against deadly diseases.” Beckham has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for many years, and this year, he hopes to raise awareness about the importance of vaccines in global health, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During his vaccination campaign speech, Beckham discussed how COVID-19 has impacted social interactions and communal gatherings. Beckham urges parents and families to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and to prioritize child immunizations to ensure children are protected from preventable diseases such as diphtheria, measles and polio.
Alongside Beckham, several other celebrity UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors and supporters, including Orlando Bloom and Sofia Carson, will participate in a series of online vaccination discussions “with healthcare professionals, teachers and vaccine experts from around the world.”
UNICEF and global partners will also play their part to “rally parents, health workers and the public to become online advocates for vaccines.” Additionally, “for each like, share or comment on posts mentioning a UNICEF social media account and using the hashtag #VaccinesWork” until the close of April 2021, the United Nations Foundation’s [email protected] campaign and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation vowed to contribute a dollar to UNICEF.
World Immunization Week
World Immunization Week is held annually in the final week of April to encourage the use of vaccines and reduce vaccine hesitancy. “As one of the world’s most successful health interventions” immunizations save millions of lives. Between 2000 and 2018, measles inoculations prevented more than 23 million child deaths. According to the WHO, as it currently stands, almost 20 million children around the world are missing out on vital vaccines that will protect them against preventable diseases.
Many of these unvaccinated children live in isolated rural areas, war zones and developing countries with limited access to basic health services. Low vaccinations rates have significantly worsened due to supply shortages and worldwide lockdowns during COVID-19. These impacts have dire consequences, potentially increasing the number of preventable child deaths.
World Immunization Week 2021 encourages greater public participation regarding the topic of immunization. Advocacy, even on an individual level, will raise awareness of the importance of vaccines in improving global health. Beckham’s ability to harness his fame to communicate to a wider platform will increase vaccine awareness. In terms of COVID-19 vaccinations specifically, the sooner the world is fully vaccinated, the sooner the global population will be protected and the sooner normalcy will resume.
– Mary McLean
Photo: Wikimedia Commons