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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…, 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.  , Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I’m breastfeeding?, Researchers are currently studying COVID-19 vaccination in breastfeeding women, but there is still limited information at this time. WHO advises that vaccinations are offered if a lactating woman is part of a priority group for vaccinations, for example if you are a health worker. Breastfeeding can continue after vaccination and remains one of the…, Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I’m pregnant?, Although the overall risk of severe illness from COVID-19 remains low, pregnancy puts you at higher risk of severe illness compared to people who are not pregnant. Research is still ongoing to understand the safety and effects of COVID-19 vaccination in pregnant women, but there is no known reason that would outweigh the benefits of vaccination…, 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.  , Should my child get a COVID-19 vaccine?, Children’s immune systems are different from those of adults and can vary significantly depending on their age. At present, WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccines are not recommended for anyone under the age of 16-18 years (depending on the individual vaccine), even if they belong to a high-risk group. Children were not included in the…, 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…
Support for frontline workers: Implementation of health policies for refugee and migrant children
“I find the tool for identification of unaccompanied and separated girls [UASGs] very useful since the indicators included are clear and help us recognise UASGs more quickly.”   A frontline worker in Serbia welcomes a new tool to identify refugee and migrant girls Two girls are talking to each other. The ‘RM Child-Health’ initiative has supported…, In Bosnia and Herzegovina, , for example, 34 national service providers and other frontline workers have completed pre- and in-service training on health issues for refugee and migrant children and international best practice. Country-specific policy packages for health policy implementation have been made available on standard operating procedures (SOPs) for paediatric…, In Bulgaria, , the past year has seen a strong focus on the training of frontline workers to identify, manage and refer children with physical and mental health problems, and on embedding child protection standards into health provision. In all, 36 frontline workers have been trained to work effectively with children who have mental health issues – far…, In Italy, , UNICEF has worked with MdM, reception sites, local health authorities and others to enhance the knowledge and skills of frontline workers from different sectors – health, child protection, education and reception services – on health risks for migrant and refugee children, with a focus on mental health and GBV prevention and response. Training…, In Serbia, , UNICEF and the University of Belgrade (Faculty of Political Sciences) have developed and piloted the interdisciplinary university Course Protection of Children Affected by Mixed Migration over the past year. The course has reached 40 students of social work and active frontline workers to date – well on track to reach the 50 planned for the…, Looking ahead, In Bulgaria, , UNICEF will continue to work with the Animus Association Foundation to develop a structured GBV training curriculum for frontline workers, aiming for eventual scale-up. In addition, the CRWB will complete its analysis of the health needs of refugees and migrants in Bulgaria and their access to state-led health services in comparison to their…, In Greece, , UNICEF plans targeted training for health authorities, service providers and other frontline workers on health issues and international best practices for refugee and migrant children. Professionals from the National Health Organization (EODY) working in open accommodation sites will gain insights into how to manage and refer medical cases among…, In Italy, , operational guidance on providing psychosocial support to unaccompanied migrant and refugee children, produced in collaboration with MdM, is being finalized for use by frontline workers. UNICEF is also mapping mental health and psychosocial services in Rome, Reggio Calabria and Syracuse to identify those that are accessible to migrants and…, In Serbia, , UNICEF and the Institute of Mental Health have launched cutting-edge field research in response to concerns about the health status of people living in migrant centres, particularly in relation to the use – and abuse – of alcohol and drugs. A final report is expected at the end of 2021 and will guide the development of materials and capacity…