UNICEF-supported national immunization campaign in rural Damascus

Launched especially for children who had missed out on life-saving vaccines

Sandra Awad and Yasmine Saker
22 June 2020

Rural Damascus, Syria, 22 June 2020- Last week, UNICEF, WHO and partners supported a 5-day national immunization campaign across Syria, aiming to reach over 250,000 children under the age of five who had missed out on potentially life-saving vaccines due to violence and displacement.

“I am a pharmacist, and I completely understand the importance of respecting the vaccination schedule, so I decided to overcome my fears and benefit from the immunization campaign to protect my daughter”

Julia’s mother
a little girl being vaccinated
UNICEF/Syria/2020/Shahan
Julia, 10 months old, receives her vaccines at the UNICEF-supported health center in Sehnaya, rural Damascus during the national vaccination campaign supported by UNICEF and partners last week.

Thanks to a generous contribution from Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, the Office of U.S Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and the Department for International Development (DFID), UNICEF provided all vaccines and cold chain equipment to ensure their safety.

A boy being vaccinated
UNICEF/Syria/2020/Shahan
Wadii, 4, receives his vaccines at the UNICEF-supported health centre in Sehnaya, rural Damascus during the national vaccination campaign supported by UNICEF and partners last week. “I am a big boy and I didn’t cry when I took the vaccine because mom told me that I will have more strength after taking it to fight all diseases like superheroes!” he says.

"I am a big boy and I didn’t cry when I took the vaccine because mom told me that I will have more strength after taking it to fight all diseases like superheroes!"

Wadii, 4

"My son has only received one vaccine since he was born but the nurses explained to me the importance of keeping up with his vaccines schedule. I will never miss a scheduled dosage again"

Mustafa's mother
A boy being vaccinated
UNICEF/Syria/2020/Shahan
Mustafa, 4, receives his vaccines at the UNICEF-supported health center in Sehnaya, rural Damascus during the national vaccination campaign supported by UNICEF and partners last week.

UNICEF also supported an awareness- campaign preceding immunizations, to talk to families about the importance and safety of vaccines, including through door-to-door visits, informative sessions with families and community leaders and educational posters and billboards, thanks to a generous contribution from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).

a little girl being vaccinated
UNICEF/Syria/2020/Shahan
Julia, 10 months old, receives her vaccines at the UNICEF-supported health center in Sehnaya, rural Damascus during the national vaccination campaign supported by UNICEF and partners last week.

"I didn’t feel comfortable to bring her into a health centre while we were on lockdown. I’m happy that she caught up on all her vaccines"

Julia's mother

In the town of Sehnaya in rural Damascus, which has become a destination for thousands of displaced families from across the country seeking safety, a UNICEF-supported health centre provides essential immunization services for children twice per week, as well as during national and subnational immunization campaigns to ensure that all children are protected against common childhood illnesses. The centre also relies on three mobile health teams to reach all children in Sehnaya and its vicinity.

A girl being vaccinated via mouth drops
UNICEF/Syria/2020/Shahan
Sham 4, receives her vaccines at the UNICEF-supported health center in Sehnaya, rural Damascus during the national vaccination campaign supported by UNICEF and partners last week.

Sham 4, receives her vaccines at the UNICEF-supported health center in Sehnaya, rural Damascus during the national vaccination campaign supported by UNICEF and partners last week.

a worker using a loudspeaker
UNICEF/Syria/2020/Shahan
A health worker informs parents of the launch of the national immunization campaign supported by UNICEF and partners, through a megaphone in Sehnaya, rural Damascus

“The main goal of the campaign is to reach every child under the age of five who had missed out on any vaccine and protect them against diseases. We vaccinated more than 1,000 children in Sehnaya alone over the five-day campaign” 

Lubna, Nurse responsible for vaccination programme in Sehnaya

“The national immunization campaign came at an essential time to remind caregivers of the importance and safety of vaccines and ensure that all children are protected against common diseases. It is important that health services continue uninterrupted during these times, following precautionary measures of course,” she continues.

"We spend our day going around from one area to another to find children who have missed out on vaccines, vaccinate them and ensure their caregivers keep up with their future vaccines”

Ghaithaa, 50, a nurse on the UNICEF-supported mobile health team
workers speaking to a mother and children
UNICEF/Syria/2020/Shahan
Ghaithaa, 50, one of the nurses on the UNICEF-supported mobile health team talks to a mother about the importance of maintaining the vaccination schedule of her son.