Timely Immunization is your Child’s Bodyguard: Nationwide communication campaign kicks off in Georgia
TBILISI, 27 February 2007. “Timely immunization is your child’s bodyguard.” This is the main slogan of the behaviour change communication campaign being launched in Georgia today. The campaign is carried out by the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Science and with the support of UNICEF. The campaign, starting today will last until the end of the year.
The main objective of the campaign is to improve immunization coverage to children below one year of age and to reduce the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases. The campaign calls mothers and other caregivers to ensure the timely immunization of their children at two, three and four months of age.
“According to the UNICEF supported Baseline Survey on immunization, the knowledge of mothers in Georgia on immunization issues is very low,” said Giovanna Barberis, UNICEF Representative in Georgia at the launch of the campaign. “According to the information received from the health facilities only 7.9 per cent of children are vaccinated on time. Mothers think that they can do the vaccination later when child is older. This is not correct. This campaign aims to changing the above behaviour and at increasing the percentage of timely vaccination.”
According to the survey, timely vaccination for Hepatitis B, Diphtheria/Pertussis/Tetanus and Poliomyelitis at two, three and four months stands at about 17 per cent. The main reason for vaccination delay is the widely-held perception of the risk to babies of post-vaccination complications. But it has been scientifically proven that risk of post-vaccination complications is very small in comparison to the risk associated with contracting the disease itself.
Timely vaccination at two, three and four months is especially important as, first, it reduces the risk of post-vaccination complications and, second, it further strengthens the immunity of children against preventable diseases. Hence, at six and seven months a child is more protected against these infections.
The communication campaign on immunization includes a mix of interventions, such as administrative mobilization, public relations, interpersonal communication, advertisement through mass-media, school promotion and business partnership for immunization.
Within the framework of the campaign medical workers will be mobilized at central, regional and rayon levels. During the forthcoming months family nurses throughout the country will carry out home visits to inform mothers and other caregivers about the benefits of immunization and to advocate for timely vaccination.
Family nurses who achieve over 90 per cent coverage rate will receive special awards at a Thank You Ceremony to be held twice in 2007 in June and November. The TBC Bank of Georgia will donate special gifts as awards for these successful nurses. This is the first attempt to attract Georgian business companies to be involved in immunization programmes.
In collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Science, the communication campaign on immunization will also target school children to educate them about the importance of timely vaccination and to have them serve as “personal sellers” of the message in their homes. As part of the campaign, lessons will be arranged in all schools all over the country. The children will receive school calendars including information on immunization.
Within the media campaign four advertising segments, each lasting three to four weeks, will be broadcast on radio and television in February, April, June and September. Talk-shows on immunization will be launched on national and regional TV and radio; video-audio releases will be produced, media feature articles in major newspapers will be released and a 12 minute film on immunization will be aired. Informative booklets, posters, banners with campaign messages will be placed at the entrance of the polyclinics and different strategic locations.
“We urge mothers to remember that timely vaccination is important and that the national vaccination calendar should be observed. Do not miss the two, three and four month targets for vaccination and your baby will grow up healthy,” UNICEF Representative Giovanna Barberis says.
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