Amplifying immunization efforts during the COVID19 pandemic

UNICEF Pakistan Insights for Impact Project with Facebook

UNICEF and Facebook
polio campaign
UNICEF/Pakistan/Syed Mehdi Bukhari
14 December 2020

As the world battles the COVID-19 pandemic, many await the advent of a coronavirus vaccine. However, according to the World Health Organization, the pandemic has disrupted the delivery of life-saving routine immunizations and vaccine hesitancy remains a global issue — as high as 70 percent% in some countries. To better understand constraints to vaccine adoption and better equip NGOs/development sector with insights needed for effective outreach, Facebook’s Data for Good team is leveraging its Insights for Impact program and working in partnership with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Facebook worked with UNICEF Pakistan’s country office to amplify the immunization campaign from the government’s official Facebook Page. The project ran in three stages: analysis of public posts, running the campaign and measuring impact. 

Analysis of Public Posts

Facebook’s Data for Good team analyzed how people were posting publicly about vaccines on Facebook in order to equip UNICEF Pakistan with new insights to better understand and address the drivers of vaccine hesitancy.

Through our analysis, we found that there were important age and gender differences in who engaged in conversations on vaccines in Pakistan. Women aged 35-44 were most engaged on the topic, older than the average age of 24 at which women have their first child in Pakistan. Conversely, young men between the ages of 18-24 were the least likely to post about vaccines. This finding highlighted the need to test different content types such as short videos or memes to determine what might work best in activating younger audiences.

Analyzing the substance of vaccine conversations, we found that women tended to highlight individual and family-related issues. Some of the themes that ranked higher for women were related to symptoms and vaccination schedules for children. Meanwhile, posts from men focused on more high-level or systemic aspects of vaccination, including the health system and local government. These insights suggested that campaigns that outline precautions for children at local health centers may resonate with mothers, while emphasizing the nation’s efforts to sustain vaccination during the COVID19 pandemic could more effectively activate fathers.

From insights to action

The advertising campaign on Facebook sought to promote vaccination at fixed Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) centers, promote continued vaccination of children during COVID19, and assure parents that it is safe to visit a health center. We had the additional goal of testing the effectiveness of three different content types: illustrative images, field images and videos. 

Illustrative Images

Illustrative images included informational graphics promoting safety practices and encouraging continued immunization during the COVID19 pandemic.

vaccines work 1
vaccines work 2

Field Images

The field images campaign featured real world photos of children and families getting vaccinated during the pandemic.

immunisation campaign
immunisation campaign 2


The video campaign featured short animations depicting safety activities and guidelines designed to build awareness and trust and sustain uptake of vaccines during the pandemic.


Measuring Impact of the Campaign

This digital vaccination campaign reached nearly 7.2 million people in Pakistan. To measure the effectiveness of content, we performed a post-campaign survey comparing users exposed to the ads (treatment) and those who were not exposed (control) to understand the likelihood of vaccinating their children. The survey results of treatment vs control suggested a portion of users were inclined to vaccinate their child in a health center or felt that it was safe to vaccinate during the COVID19 pandemic as a result of seeing the campaign. These results were statistically significant at the 99% confidence level.

Measuring effectiveness of different types of content, we found that illustrative images were the most effective in terms of people remembering seeing an ad from Facebook (+2.5 percentage point increase between those who saw the ad versus those who did not), reporting that they were likely to have their child vaccinated at a local health center (+2.7 percentage point increase) and in believing that visiting a health center during COVID19 is safe (+2.0 percentage point increase).

Campaign Results Highlighting Where Exposure to the Ads Caused a Lift (Test vs Control)


Illustrative Images

Field Images


Ad Recall



No Statistically Significant Lift

Likelihood of Vaccinating at 

Local Health Center


No Statistically Significant Lift

No Statistically Significant Lift

Continued Vaccination during the 

COVID19 Pandemic

No Statistically Significant Lift

No Statistically Significant Lift

No Statistically Significant Lift

Perceived Safety of Visiting 

Health Center


No Statistically Significant Lift

No Statistically Significant Lift

*Statistically significant at the 99% confidence level

“This digital media campaign with Facebook was a first step to re-engage the public in completing the vaccination schedule of children after health services came to a halt during the COVID emergency. Facebook provided key insights around the public’s information requirements during the pandemic that helped UNICEF in tailoring messages and content to reach our target audience in Pakistan through official digital platforms of the Expanded Program on Immunization. The partnership ensured access to real time data and use of digital technology to engage with the public when face to face interactions were limited due to the risk of infection.” -  

Looking Forward

The finding that illustrative images outperformed other content types in Pakistan has important implications for driving adoption of healthy behaviors both for routine immunizations, as well as a future COVID19 vaccine. While these results are specific to the Pakistan context, UNICEF and Facebook are currently running similar projects in 10 countries to generate more context-specific learnings to strengthen global behavior change communications efforts and build public trust in vaccines.

 1CIA World Factbook