UNICEF is tasked by GAVI, the global vaccine alliance, with ensuring that up to 1.4 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses can be fairly distributed in 2021 as part of COVAX, the largest and fastest immunization campaign in world history. Why UNICEF? Because even before COVID-19, UNICEF helped immunize almost half the world’s children, surmounting nearly impossible logistics challenges and braving the roughest of terrains. UNICEF is the only organization with the infrastructure, expertise and buying power to spearhead this enormous undertaking.
Watch how UNICEF is making sure no one is left out:
Equitable vaccine distribution is only fair, and it’s in everyone’s interest. No one is safe until everyone is safe. It’s also critical to UNICEF’s ability to reverse the damage COVID-19 has done to children. The number of children living in poverty is estimated to have risen by 142 million. At least 1 in 7 children and young people lived under stay-at-home policies for most of 2020. Up to 94 percent of students worldwide were affected by school closures at the height of the pandemic and at least one third were unable to access remote learning. Disruptions in food systems and health and nutrition services could leave 44 million children hungry.
“As we begin to imagine a day when COVID-19 is behind us,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, “our guiding principle must be that the light at the end of the tunnel needs to shine for all."
But it will take more than a vaccine to end the pandemic. UNICEF is also aiding the development of rapid diagnostics and treatments and helping countries strengthen their health systems. UNICEF has appealed for $969 million to finance its global response. The funding needs to address COVID-19 and help with COVAX are critical. Here is what donations could provide:
COVID-19 has set back progress for children by decades. The future of a generation is at stake. That’s why UNICEF has never stopped working to provide the essentials kids need for their health and well-being.
The campaign to end the pandemic is one of the most important moments in UNICEF’s 75-year history. Here is a look at just some of the countries where vaccines are reaching those who need them.
Vanuatu has been blessed by relatively few COVID-19 cases. But as vaccination efforts continue through the COVAX Facility, UNICEF, the Ministry of Health and local partners have had the unique challenge of convincing the population to get vaccinated against a disease that so far has had little impact. Read more about UNICEF's COVID-19 relief efforts in Vanuatu.
When Peru received COVID-19 vaccine doses through the COVAX Facility, the elderly made their way to the vaccination center in Lima, Peru, leaning on canes or rolling up in wheelchairs pushed by family members and caregivers. Being vaccinated gives Peru's senior citizens protection that can prolong their lives and something else just as precious: the freedom to hug their grandchildren again. Read more about how UNICEF's COVID-19 relief efforts in Peru are saving lives and reuniting families.
In June, a fleet of refrigerated trucks bearing the flag of Honduras lined up to receive a shipment of 1.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines at the Armando Escalón Espinal Air Base in San Pedro, Honduras. Jean Gough, UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, welcomed the doses donated by the U.S., as long-awaited relief in a country that had one of the lowest vaccination rates in Latin America. "These doses are a glimmer of hope to the region and all countries waiting anxiously for COVAX doses," said Gough. Read more about UNICEF's COVID-19 relief efforts in Honduras and its global push to bring justice to efforts to vaccinate the world.
Refugees' rights to health care travel with them wherever they go, and UNICEF is on the ground to protect them every step of the way. In Jordan, COVID-19 vaccines began arriving via the COVAX facility in March. Since then, UNICEF has been helping the Ministry of Health reach all those eligible for the vaccines, including refugees: “I am happy that the government of Jordan started giving us vaccines," says Aesha, a 62-year-old refugee from Syria who has lived in the Za'atari refugee camp since 2013. Equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines is the only way to end the pandemic. Learn more about how UNICEF’s COVID-19 relief efforts in Jordan ensure that everyone eligible gets their fair shot at lifesaving protection.
When Bolivia began receiving COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility, health worker Jeanine Mendonza Robles, head of the COVID department at a small regional hospital, breathed a deep sigh of relief. Not just for herself and her family but her community and her patients. "Once I got the vaccine as a frontline worker, I felt safer to care for patients and avoided getting sick because of COVID," she says. She also felt more confident treating the unvaccinated children in her care. Read more about how UNICEF's COVID-19 relief efforts in Bolivia equip health workers like Jeanine to keep themselves and others safe.
Last year when the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread globally, Tunisia was a leader in North Africa in containing the coronavirus and keeping hospitalizations and deaths low. But when cases began rising, UNICEF joined forces with the Scouts, a national organization with young volunteers in all of Tunisia's 24 provinces, to fight COVID-19. Learn more about how the Scouts and UNICEF are collaborating on lifesaving COVID-19 relief efforts in Tunisia.
India's deadly second wave of COVID-19 nearly brought the country's health care system to breaking point. Hospital beds filled beyond capacity, oxygen shortages and scarcities of medical equipment threw brave health workers holding the front line into a desperate battle to save lives. Learn more about how UNICEF sent lifesaving equipment and supplies to India and supported more than 50,000 COVID-19 vaccination centers across 57 states
On March 5, 2020, South Africa confirmed its first COVID-19 case. Eleven months later, help arrived when UNICEF via the COVAX facility delivered COVID-19 vaccines to the nation with one of the highest infection rates on the continent. Meet two brave health workers – survivors of COVID-19 who are now back at work, grateful for their health and the protection COVID-19 vaccines provide. Read more about UNICEF's COVID-19 relief efforts in South Africa.
In the Himalayas, COVID-19 vaccines have reached some of the earth’s highest peaks. Meet UNICEF’s Indra Kala Tamang, a health worker who traveled five days to support the vaccination campaign in Jumla, one of the most remote districts of Nepal's Karnali Province. The last mile of a vaccine’s travels is an achievement UNICEF and partners make possible by installing cold rooms and refrigerators along the way to ensure vaccines arrive at their final destination effective and safe. Read more about UNICEF's COVID-19 relief efforts in Nepal
Afghanistan was the first country in Central Asia to receive COVID-19 vaccine doses through the COVAX Facility, with UNICEF coordinating procurement and supply. The first shipment of 468,000 doses was prioritized for teachers and university professors, welcome news for Afghanistan’s students who can now get back to learning safely. Read more about UNICEF's COVID-19 relief efforts in Afghanistan.
A nurse who believes the people who live in Laos are like one big family had the honor of administering the first COVID-19 vaccine dose to a patient at Mittaphab Hospital in Laos' capital, Vientiane. Though she could relate to her patients’ fear of infection during the early days of the pandemic, Somsouk Khounmany is happy that one year later she is able to help her patients feel hopeful again. Read more about UNICEF's COVID-19 relief efforts in Laos.
In Sudan, residents who have promoted past immunization campaigns use their know-how and networks to overcome vaccine hesitancy and educate their communities about COVID-19 vaccines. Convincing the public that COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and free is essential to protecting those most at risk — the elderly and people with preexisting conditions. Read more about UNICEF's COVID-19 relief efforts in Sudan.
When Kenya received 1 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in March, frontline health workers were vaccinated first. Once teachers, other essential workers and people over age 58 became eligible, 60-year-old Crispin Bolo Otira, father of five, rushed to get his COVID-19 vaccine and made this plea: “I urge those who have reached my age to get vaccinated. Now we have this weapon, we can fight coronavirus.” Read more about UNICEF's COVID-19 relief efforts in Kenya.
Rwanda was the first African country to receive shipments of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. But the war on COVID-19 cannot be won without another critical weapon: soap. Meet Community Mobilizer Anaclet Musoni. A farmer by trade, Musoni has helped keep the impact of COVID-19 largely at bay in places like the Mahama neighborhood in Kamombo Village by reminding people not to let down their guard and preaching the importance of handwashing. Read more about UNICEF's COVID-19 relief efforts in Rwanda.
On March 4, more than 480,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses arrived in the Philippines via the COVAX Facility. Health workers and people with underlying health conditions were among the first to be vaccinated. For one ICU nurse, that meant a chance to see her husband and son after almost four months apart. UNICEF’s delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to the Philippines has reunited many families wrenched apart by the pandemic. Read more about UNICEF's COVID-19 relief efforts in the Philippines.
Delivery of nearly 4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Africa’s most populous nation was just the beginning of UNICEF’s mission to end the pandemic that has devastated Nigeria's already weak service infrastructure. Read more about UNICEF's COVID-19 relief efforts in Nigeria.
The arrival of 504,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses in Côte d'Ivoire on February 26 sparked hope in a country where the most vulnerable households have borne the brunt of the pandemic's severe economic toll. Read more about UNICEF's COVID-19 relief efforts in Côte d'Ivoire.
On February 24, Ghana became the first country to receive a shipment of COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX, beginning the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history. Read more about UNICEF's COVID-19 relief efforts in Ghana.
UNICEF is leading on global COVID-19 vaccine procurement and distribution, helping to ensure delivery of 1.4 billion vaccine doses to the world in 2021. Read more about UNICEF's COVID-19 relief efforts.