UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and founder of the 7 Fund for UNICEF, David Beckham, is fronting a global initiative to inspire confidence in vaccines and encourage parents around the world to vaccinate their children against deadly diseases.
In a powerful video released ahead of World Immunization Week, Beckham talks about the loss of everyday activities due to COVID-19, such as hugs with family, spending time with friends, and being with the people we love, and encourages parents to vaccinate themselves so that they can be safe. He also urges families to ensure that their children are receiving routine vaccinations to protect them against diseases such as diphtheria, measles and polio.
“In the last year, COVID-19 has shown us how much we take for granted but it has also reminded us about the power of vaccines,” said Beckham. “Vaccines work, saving millions of lives every year. I have learned through my work with UNICEF just how important they are for the health of our loved ones. Yet too many children around the world don’t get the routine vaccines they need to be safe from deadly diseases. That’s why this World Immunization Week, I’m so proud to be joining UNICEF and partners to encourage parents to vaccinate themselves and their children.”
Alongside Beckham, UNICEF Ambassadors and supporters Orlando Bloom, Sofia Carson, Olivia Colman, Angelique Kidjo, Jeremy Lin, Alyssa Milano, Jessie Ware and others will take part in a series of online conversations about vaccines, including with health care workers, teachers and vaccine experts from around the world. The frontline workers from Benin, Indonesia, Jordan and Peru will share their knowledge and first-hand experience of the importance of vaccinating children against deadly diseases.
To help spread the word online about the effectiveness of vaccines, starting today, UNICEF will join with global partners and funders to rally parents, health workers and the public to become online advocates for vaccines. For every like, share or comment on posts mentioning a UNICEF social media account and using the hashtag #VaccinesWork from now until the end of April, the United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will donate US$ 1 to UNICEF – up to a total of US$5 million – to ensure all children get the life-saving vaccines they need.
“After a year of lockdowns, empty classrooms, missed vaccinations, virtual birthday parties, and cancelled family dinners, people all over the world are now getting a COVID-19 vaccine or anxiously awaiting the moment when they will. And it’s an important reminder of the critical role other vaccines play in allowing us to live our everyday lives,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “Whereas today we all know COVID-19 vaccines are the best hope we have of resuming our normal lives, what remains ‘normal’ for far too many children all over the world is no access to vaccines for any preventable diseases whatsoever. This is not a ‘normal’ to which we should return.”
Every year, 14 million infants and children globally do not receive any vaccines against preventable diseases, with many living in remote rural locations, conflict zones or slum settings and without access to other essential health services. In the last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has made this situation even more dire, as pandemic-related lockdowns and supply disruptions threaten a devastating rise in preventable child deaths.
World Immunization Week – celebrated every year in the last week of April – aims to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease. Using the theme ‘Vaccines bring us closer’, World Immunization Week 2021 will urge greater engagement around immunization globally to promote the importance of vaccination in bringing people together, and improving the health and wellbeing of everyone, everywhere, throughout life.