07 February 2024

Protecting your child against measles, mumps and rubella

With the decline in vaccination during the COVID-19 pandemic, measles cases are rising in Europe and Central Asia. Children who have not been fully vaccinated with the MMR vaccine remain at the greatest risk of catching the measles virus that can lead to pneumonia, lifelong brain damage, hearing loss and even death. The vast majority of doctors…, What is measles?, Measles is a very contagious disease caused by a virus. It can spread to others when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Other people can become infected if they breathe the contaminated air or touch an infected surface and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth. The measles virus can live for up to two hours in the air. It is so contagious that…, What is mumps?, Mumps is a very contagious viral disease. We can catch it from an infected person who sneezes or coughs near us. It also spreads when an infected person touches their nose or mouth and then touches a surface someone else may touch. The symptoms are often mild and usually take a few days to appear. The most noticeable are swollen cheeks and neck…, What is rubella?, Rubella is a contagious viral infection. We can catch it when an infected person coughs or sneezes near us. It also spreads when we touch a surface that has been contaminated with the rubella virus by being touched by someone who is infected, and then touch our own eyes, mouth or nose. Rubella used to be called ‘German measles’, and some people…, What is the MMR vaccine?, The MMR vaccine protects our children from measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). These diseases can cause severe harm and even death. That's why vaccination against them is so important to help our children grow up healthy and protected! The MMR vaccine has been used since the 1970s and has been given safely to more than 500 million children…, How is the MMR vaccine given?, A short needle under the skin is used to give a child the MMR vaccine. Our children should receive two doses of the MMR vaccine for the best possible protection against measles, mumps and rubella. The exact time of the MMR vaccine depends on your country’s vaccination schedule. The World Health Organization recommends that the first dose of the…, Can my child get the MMR and other vaccines if they are allergic to eggs?, Yes. Children with an egg allergy can still have the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccination. The vaccine contains only tiny amounts of egg protein and can even be given to children with a severe egg allergy, such as anaphylaxis (difficulty breathing, rapid heart rate, nausea or vomiting, loss of consciousness). As for any other vaccine, children…, Should I still immunize my child if they have already had measles, mumps or rubella?, We should still immunize our children against these diseases, even if they had one of the diseases in the past. The MMR vaccine protects our child against three diseases (measles, mumps and rubella) with the same injection. A previous infection with one disease cannot protect our child against all three of them. Remember: some diseases, including…, Does the MMR vaccine cause autism?, No. Many studies have shown that the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine and other vaccines do not cause autism. The link between the MMR vaccine and autism is a myth that keeps circulating online, but it has been shown to be completely wrong by study after study. The MMR vaccine is safe and protects our children against measles, mumps and rubella…, What are the potential side effects of the MMR vaccine?, Like any other vaccine or medicine, the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine can have some side effects, but they are mostly mild and temporary. The MMR vaccine is safe and effective, and protects our children against measles, mumps and rubella, which are dangerous diseases that can cause severe harm and even death. Serious adverse reactions to the…
28 December 2021

What we know about the Omicron variant

People around the world are concerned about the Omicron variant of COVID-19. We’ve gathered the latest expert information about this new variant and will continue to update this article as more information becomes available. For more tips and information on COVID-19, see our  COVID-19 guide . Last updated: 17 December 2021 Jump to:   What is the…, What is the Omicron variant? , The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been called a variant of concern by WHO based on the evidence that it has several mutations that may have an impact on how it behaves. There is still substantial uncertainty regarding Omicron and a lot of research underway to evaluate its transmissibility, severity and reinfection risk., How did the Omicron variant develop? , When a virus is circulating widely and causing numerous infections, the likelihood of the virus mutating increases. The more opportunities a virus has to spread, the more opportunities it has to undergo changes. New variants like Omicron are a reminder that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. It is therefore essential that people get the…, Where is the Omicron variant present? , The Omicron variant has now been detected in many countries around the world. WHO reports that Omicron is probably in most countries, even if it hasn’t been detected yet., Is the Omicron variant more severe than other COVID-19 variants? , Early findings suggest that Omicron might be less severe than the Delta variant, but more data is needed and WHO warns that it should not be dismissed as “mild”. Studies are ongoing and this information will be updated as it becomes available.  It is important to remember that all variants of COVID-19 can cause severe disease or death, including…, Is the Omicron variant more contagious? , Omicron is spreading more quickly than other variants. Based on the information available, WHO believes it is likely that Omicron will outpace the Delta variant where there is COVID-19 transmission in the community.  However, being vaccinated and taking precautions such as avoiding crowded spaces, keeping your distance from others and wearing a…, Does the Omicron variant cause different symptoms?  , There is no information to suggest that Omicron causes different COVID-19 symptoms from other COVID-19 variants., Are the COVID-19 vaccines effective against the Omicron variant?  , Researchers are looking into any potential impact the Omicron variant has on the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. Information is still limited, but there may be a small reduction in the effectiveness of vaccines against severe illness and death, and a decline in preventing mild disease and infection. However, WHO reports that so far it looks…, Is a prior COVID-19 infection effective against the Omicron variant?, WHO reports that early evidence suggests that previous infection could offer less protection against Omicron in comparison to other variants of concern, such as Delta. Information is still limited though and we will share updates as it becomes available. You should get vaccinated even if you’ve previously had COVID-19. While people who recover…, Do current COVID-19 tests detect the Omicron variant? , The widely used PCR and antigen-based rapid diagnostic tests continue to detect infection of COVID-19, including Omicron., Are children more likely to contract the Omicron variant? , Research is ongoing into Omicron’s transmissibility and we will update as more information becomes available. However, people who are mixing socially and those who are unvaccinated are more susceptible to contracting COVID-19., How can I protect myself and my family against the Omicron variant?, The most important thing you can do is reduce your risk of exposure to the virus. To protect yourself and your loved ones, make sure to:  Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth. Make sure that your hands are clean when you put on and remove your mask. Keep a physical distance of at least 1 metre from others.  Avoid poorly ventilated or…, How can I talk to my child about the Omicron and other COVID-19 variants?, News about COVID-19 and now the Omicron variant is flooding our daily lives and it is only natural that curious young children will have questions – lots of them. Here are some pointers to keep in mind tips for helping to explain what can be a complicated topic in simple and reassuring terms.  Children have a right to know what is going on, but it…
15 June 2021

What you need to know about COVID-19 vaccines

Vaccines save millions of lives each year. The development of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines is a huge step forward in our global effort to end the pandemic and to get back to doing more of the things we enjoy with the people we love. We’ve gathered the latest expert information to answer some of the most common questions about COVID-19…, How do COVID-19 vaccines work?, Vaccines work by mimicking an infectious agent – viruses, bacteria or other microorganisms that can cause a disease. This ‘teaches’ our immune system to rapidly and effectively respond against it.  Traditionally, vaccines have done this by introducing a weakened form of an infectious agent that allows our immune system to build a memory of it.…, Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?, Yes, even though COVID-19 vaccines are being developed as rapidly as possible, they must go through rigorous testing in clinical trials to prove that they meet internationally agreed benchmarks for safety and effectiveness. Only if they meet these standards can a vaccine receive validation from WHO and national regulatory agencies. UNICEF will…, How were COVID-19 vaccines developed so quickly?, Thanks to the unprecedented investment in research and development and global cooperation, scientists were able to develop safe and effective vaccines against COVID-19 in record time. All the standard safety procedures and rigorous regulatory standards were maintained. In addition to the COVID-19 vaccines currently in use in many countries around…, Which COVID-19 vaccine is best for me?, All WHO-approved vaccines have been shown to be highly effective at protecting you against severe illness from COVID-19. The best vaccine to get is the one most readily available to you!, Will the COVID-19 vaccines work against the new variants?, WHO says that the vaccines approved to date are expected to provide at least some protection against new variants. Experts around the world are continuously studying how the new variants affect the behaviour of the virus, including any potential impact on the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. Should any of the vaccines be shown to be less…, Who should be vaccinated first?, As there is not enough manufacturing capacity in 2021 to meet all global needs, not everyone will be able to get the vaccine at the same time. Countries must identify priority populations, which WHO recommends are frontline health workers (to protect health systems) and those at highest risk of death due to COVID-19, such as older adults and…, When shouldn’t you get a COVID-19 vaccine?, If you have any questions about whether you should receive a COVID-19 vaccine, speak to your doctor. At present, people with the following health conditions should not receive a COVID-19 vaccine to avoid any possible adverse effects: If you have a history of severe allergic reactions to any ingredients of a COVID-19 vaccine. If you are currently…, Should I get a vaccine if I’ve already had COVID-19?, Yes, you should get vaccinated even if you’ve previously had COVID-19. While people who recover from COVID-19 may develop some natural immunity to the virus, we do not yet know how long it lasts or how well you are protected. Vaccines offer more reliable protection., Can COVID-19 vaccines affect fertility?, No, you may have seen false claims on social media, but there is no evidence that any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines, can affect fertility in women or men. If you are currently trying to become pregnant, you do not need to avoid pregnancy after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine., When will a COVID-19 vaccine be available in my country?, The distribution of vaccines is underway globally and the vaccine availability varies by country. We recommend checking with your health ministry to get the latest information for your country. On behalf of the COVAX Facility, UNICEF is procuring COVID-19 vaccines and delivering them around the world to make sure no country is left behind. Our…, What is COVAX?, COVAX is part of a global effort aimed at accelerating the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access around the world. No country will be safe from COVID-19 until all countries are protected. There are 190 countries and territories engaged in the COVAX Facility, which account for over 90 per cent…, I’ve seen inaccurate information online about COVID-19 vaccines. What should I do?, Sadly, there is a lot of inaccurate information online about the COVID-19 virus and vaccines. Misinformation in a health crisis can spread paranoia, fear and stigmatization. It can also result in people being left unprotected or more vulnerable to the virus. Get verified facts and advice from trusted sources like your local health authority, the…, Can COVID-19 vaccines affect your DNA?, No, none of the COVID-19 vaccines affect or interact with your DNA in any way. Messenger RNA, or mRNA, vaccines teach the cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response inside the body. This response produces antibodies which keep you protected against the virus. mRNA is different from DNA and only stays inside the cell for about 72…, Do the COVID-19 vaccines contain any animal products in them?, No, none of the WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccines contain animal products., How can I protect my family until we all receive a COVID-19 vaccine?, Safe and effective vaccines are a gamechanger, but it is still not clear the degree to which they can protect us against infection and transmission. For the time being, even once vaccinated we need to continue taking precautions to protect ourselves and others. This includes wearing masks, physical distancing and regular handwashing. This article…