By Lisa Zengarini
During the annual World Immunization Week, taking place from April 24 to April 30, the World Council of Churches will intensify its active support to vaccination programmes against preventable diseases, including Covid-19.
“Vaccines Bring Us Closer”
The campaign is promoted every year during the last week of April by the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners, including UNICEF, to raise awareness and increase rates of immunization around the world, saving millions of lives.
Under the theme “Vaccines Bring Us Closer”, World Immunization Week 2021 will urge greater engagement in promoting the importance of immunization for bringing people together and improving the health and wellbeing of everyone, everywhere and throughout life.
Ensuring all children receive routine vaccines
While the world focuses on critically important new vaccines to protect against Covid-19, there remains a need to ensure routine vaccinations are not missed.
Many children have not been vaccinated during the global pandemic, leaving them at risk of serious diseases like measles and polio. Rapidly circulating misinformation around the topic of vaccination adds to this threat.
The emphasis of the Immunization Week will therefore be on ensuring children across the world receive appropriate routine vaccines and also educating people specifically about Covid-19 vaccines.
WCC’s initiative during Immunization Week
The WCC, which throughout the pandemic has actively supported universal access to the Covid-19 vaccines and has encouraged people to act in solidarity by getting vaccinated, will participate in the campaign through social media messages, educational resource materials and feature stories and will appoint ten influential members from the fellowship to join the 300 Vaccination Champions that its long-time child-rights partner UNICEF is mobilizing for world immunization.
WCC member Churches are also invited to use the hashtag #VaccinesWork with photographs depicting people after receiving the Covid-19 vaccine and how it feels to be vaccinated.
Crucial role of faith leaders in promoting vaccination
WCC acting general secretary, Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca, has called on religious leaders in all contexts to give their active support to the campaign: “We must do all we can to protect people from Covid-19 and other potentially fatal diseases. It is our duty to exercise the influence trusted upon us, beyond the pulpits in our local churches. Faith actors have a crucial role to play in increasing the public confidence in vaccines, especially in the current landscape,” he says.
“Being part of a fellowship stretching across the globe gives us a presence in rural areas where the church is often the centre of the local community. Being part of everyday life builds trust and makes it easier to reach out to people with messages related to health and healing, which is one of our programmatic areas,” Sauca explains.