UNICEF is tasked by GAVI, the global vaccine alliance, with ensuring that up to 2 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 people living in extreme poverty is rising for the first time in nearly 25 years. Eighty million kids missed routine vaccinations between March and December 2020. Over a billion were forced out of school. And 6.7 million more children under 5 are threatened with wasting because COVID-19 has put nutritious food out of their reach.
“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 $659 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.
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 2 billion vaccine doses — including 1.2 billion doses to low- and lower-middle-income countries — in 2021. Read more about UNICEF's COVID-19 relief efforts