Vaccines transform the health of people and communities everywhere. Every year, vaccines save up to 3 million lives, allowing people to live healthy lives and thrive.
Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance has called on donors to help them immunise an additional 300 million children and save up to 8 million more lives. Too many children are still missing out on the benefits of vaccination, and now is the time to intensify our efforts to bank the gains made to date and to make further progress.
An urgent response is needed. Now is the time to double down on reaching these communities with immunisation in order to continue to advance Gavi’s hard-won gains.
Meet some of the incredible people dedicated to protecting children with life-saving vaccines and defending these gains.
Madeleine, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
It’s crucial to keep vaccines cool, which is especially difficult during frequent power cuts. With the help of solar fridges, nurses like Madeleine can carry vaccines to where they’re most needed.
Sister Sofia, Ethiopia
In rural areas like Afar, a herding community in Ethiopia, very few children have traditionally received vaccines against measles. Sister Sofia finds families who are often on the move and convinces them to immunise their children.
Carolyn, a widowed mother of seven from Grand Bassa County in rural Liberia, is the longest serving female vaccinator in Liberia. In her 33 years on the job, she has contributed to the survival of approximately 100,000 children within the Bushrod community outside the capital Monrovia.
Agnes and Gabriel, Nigeria
Lack of transportation can sometimes mean hard-to-reach communities don’t get the vaccines they need. That’s why health workers Agnes and Gabriel in Ondo State in Nigeria travel by motorcycle to help make sure that children in remote areas can access vaccines and stay healthy.
Oumi Thioune, Rural Senegal
Oumi Thioune, a head teacher from Méckhé in rural Senegal, recognises that health education is a crucial part of her job. She organises immunisation sessions in her school, and recently spread the word about her country’s vaccination pilot project for HPV — a virus linked to cervical cancer.
“Every Senegalese woman knows how serious cervical cancer is. Everyone has heard about it … I was very proud they chose my school in raising awareness about the HPV vaccine — it’s so important for everyone’s health.”
Dakar’s North District team, Urban Senegal
The fast-changing population in Dakar makes it hard to keep track of children who need their shots, especially those who are not on official registers. With their blue cold storage box, Dakar’s North District team are taking vaccines to the streets. They’re finding the city’s hardest-to-reach children in the city’s suburbs to ensure their health isn’t overlooked.
Without infrastructure, it’s difficult for vaccinators to reach the people who need them. Alice is a mother in South Sudan who experiences these challenges, particularly during the rainy season.
“It has been very difficult to find medicines for the children. I had to travel far to the city for them to be given immunisations, and for my fourth child, it was too late. This has made me very determined to vaccinate all of the children, and now in fact there is a clinic in our village where we can take the children for protection.”
During a cholera outbreak in Zambia in 2018, Jonathan realized that community volunteers are essential to stopping the spread of outbreaks and keeping communities safe. He began administering oral cholera vaccines, contributing to about 600,000 doses getting distributed during the outbreak in early 2018.
Thank you to Gavi for providing these stories. This blog was first published on 7 December 2018 and updated on 14 February 2020.