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#VaccinesWork: UNICEF launches campaign promoting immunisation

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The campaign will use the hashtag to promote a new global drive about the safety of vaccines, which UNICEF says save 3 million lives annually.

As the anti-vax movement gains more traction, the UNICEF is launching a new global campaign to promote the power and safety of vaccines.

The campaign will run alongside World Immunisation Week, running April 24 to 30, and spread the message that everyone can be protected through vaccines in a bid to target parents.

The hashtag #VaccinesWork has long been used to bring together immunisation advocates online. Now UNICEF is hoping to bring greater weight to the message in the campaign which is being partnered by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organisation and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. 

According to the children's agency, an estimated 1.5 million children died of vaccine-preventable diseases in 2017.

This year so far there have already been 112,000 cases of measles worldwide.

In Europe alone, the number of cases of measles in 2018 was the highest in ten years. 

In Western Australia, a measles alert has been issued after a person who travelled to Perth from Thailand this week was confirmed to have the contagious illness.

The person arrived at Perth International Airport after flying Thai Airways from Bangkok on Sunday.

UNICEF says in some countries it's often due to a lack of access to vaccines, but there are a rising number of families delaying or refusing to vaccinate their children because of complacency or skepticism.

“We want the awareness that #VaccinesWork to go viral,” UNICEF’s chief of immunisation Robin Nandy said.

“Vaccines are safe and they save lives. This campaign is an opportunity to show the world that social media can be a powerful force for change and provide parents with trustworthy information on vaccines.”

According to UNICEF, vaccines save up to 3 million lives yearly and protect children from potentially deadly, highly-infectious diseases including measles, pneumonia, cholera and diphtheria.

It also said fewer people have died from measles between 2000 and 2017 and polio is on the verge of being eradicated because of vaccines.

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The campaign is part of a global, week-long celebration under the theme Protected Together: Vaccines Work.

UNICEF is partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organisation, and the vaccine alliance Gavi to reach as many people as possible. 

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will contribute $US1 to UNICEF for every like or share of social media posts using the hashtag #VaccinesWork throughout the month of April, up to a total of $US1 million.

“More children than ever before are being reached with vaccines today,” Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's interim director of vaccine delivery Violaine Mitchell said.

The campaign also includes a 60-second animated film called "Dangers", meaning the elements that might pose risk to children. The video will be available in Arabic, Chinese, French, Hindi, Russian, Spanish and Tagalog.

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