A reminder that we cannot take for granted immunization of children
A mural in the city center reinforces the message that ensuring children are vaccinated means knowing they are protected
Skopje, 29 June 2022: National authorities released data on routine childhood immunization rates this April, warning of a low national coverage, particularly the coverage of vaccine against measles, rubella and mumps (MMR). Although rates in 2021 (70.4% for the first dose and 80.4% for the second dose) are increased compared to 2020 (63% for the first dose and 68.5% for the second dose), this is far from the 95% required to achieve herd immunity and protect the community.
It is worrying that the MMR vaccination rates of children for 2021 are lower than the rates in 2018 (MMR1 – 74.8% and MMR2 - 93.8%) when the country faced a measles epidemic that took the lives of 4 (four) children aged 5.5 to 13 months, all unvaccinated with the MMR vaccine.
To remind parents on the importance of childhood vaccination and strengthen vaccine uptake, UNICEF and the Ministry of Health developed community-based communication campaign. Campaign materials were distributed directly to communities – to places frequently visited by parents, as well as kindergartens, vaccination points and maternity wards.
This week a mural has been painted in the center of Skopje as a reminder to parents and caregivers that ensuring children are vaccinated means knowing they are protected. The mural symbolizes parents’ dedication to do anything to protect their children.,. In their efforts to protect children, parents should know that routine vaccination in childhood is the safest, easiest, and highly effective way to protect child health throughout life.
“We need to talk about routine childhood immunization continuously, not only during the Immunization week. Every parent wants to protect their children and it is normal to seek information. But we should not allow misinformation to question the trust and confidence in vaccines,” said Patrizia DiGiovanni, UNICEF Representative and continued with an appeal to parents:
“Provide your children with the protection that your parents have provided you in the past. In the 21st century we should not consciously endanger the lives of children and put them at risk of diseases that are preventable with vaccines that are proven to be safe and highly effective. Thanks to high vaccination rates in the past, parents today have been fortunate to grow up without seeing family or friends die or suffer life-long disability from diseases like measles or polio. Ironically, this is one of the reasons why some believe that vaccine preventable diseases are no longer a threat. We call to parents to contact their family doctor or pediatrician and go to the nearest Health Center or vaccination center. Because the health of your child is in your hands.”
Note to the editors on MMR
According to WHO, coverage of at least 95 percent of the two-dose jab is needed to avoid the spread of measles, that can be fatal. Measles is one of the most contagious respiratory disease. It can result in severe, sometimes permanent complications including pneumonia, brain swelling, hospitalization, and death. Measles is so contagious that it is estimated that 9 out of 10 of the close contacts of an infected person who are not immune will also get infected. They are easily transmitted when an infected person breathes or coughs, and the virus can live up to 2 hours on the surface or in the air.
All assets developed as part of the national campaign “Let’s protect children. Some things are out of our control. But with regular vaccination we can protect children from infectious diseases.” are available in English, Macedonian and Albanian.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.mk.