Vaccines : A little pain, a big gain

Vaccines save lives. The small sting of the vaccine protects against many diseases that can really hurt, or worse

Sitraka ANDRINIVO
UNICEF/UN0297031/Andrinivo

18 January 2020

For some children, vaccines are associated with the sting of the syringe. But most, like Celin, 10, also know what little pain they may experience is far outweighed by the protection provided against debilitating and sometimes fatal illnesses.  

Celin's mother was also briefly afraid of vaccines, when after his first vaccination he developed a mild fever. She was reassured when she took the boy to a doctor who explained that a fever can sometimes be a side effect of immunization. Since then she has made sure her son is fully immunized. While receiving the injection for the measles vaccine, Celin barely winced and while searching for the mark on his arms, proudly shouted out to his friends nearby, "not bad, the vaccine!".

 

Today, many once deadly diseases are prevented with routine vaccinations. Unfortunately, millions of children around the world still continue to get sick and even die from these diseases. That is why UNICEF continues to make every effort to enable every child living in the most remote areas to benefit from vaccines.

In Madagascar, for example, several vaccination campaigns are being initiated by the Malagasy government, with support from UNICEF and other partners, to enable millions of parents to vaccinate their children free of charge. But buying enough vaccines for eight million children has a cost. UNICEF is supporting the government along with several partners to ensure that cost is not an obstacle.

Once in the country, the vaccines are then transported by all means – truck, car, motorbike, canoe or by foot - to their final destination. Health workers and community volunteers go house to house to ensure parents are aware of the immunization campaign and have their children vaccinated.

UNICEF/UN0296977/Andrinivo

Vaccine preventable diseases like measles, diarrheas including those due to rotavirus, Acute Respiratory Infection caused by pneumonia and whooping cough contribute for more than 70% to under five mortality in Madagascar. Increasing the number of children fully immunized in Madagascar should be the back bone of any strategy that aim to reduce under five mortality. Thanks to Alwaleed Philanthropies contribution 153,192 children from 6 moths to 9 years were vaccinated against measles and this will contribute saving many children lives said Michel Saint Lot, UNICEF Representative in Madagascar 

At this public primary school in Bealoy, a community about 30 kilometers from the city of Mahajanga, children proudly call their vaccination cards, their "kara-panondro", or national identity card, to show their sense of being now among the greats and remember that they are part of the community.