UNICEF launches campaign to boost COVID-19 vaccinations in Africa

Batch of 132,000 doses of the Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine /UNICEF

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Wednesday, kicked off an eight-week campaign to help boost COVID-19 vaccinations across Africa.

UNICEF said the first-ever U-Report Challenge which comes a week after COVAX delivered its billionth dose in Rwanda, calls on all 13.3 million U-Reporters in Africa to help get vaccines to the unvaccinated.

“Through improving access and confidence in COVID-19 vaccines, the #GiveItAShot challenge aims to activate young people in motivating those eligible in their community to get vaccinated,” it said in a statement issued in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

U-Report is a messaging tool that empowers young people around the world to engage with and speak out on issues that matter to them.

The U-Report is currently active in 88 countries worldwide, with 19.3 million U-Reporters all over the world, and works with SMS, Facebook Messenger, Viber, Telegram, and WhatsApp.

According to UNICEF, COVID-19 information and advocacy messages have been packaged and disseminated via SMS, Facebook Messenger and other communication channels.

UNICEF said the campaign dubbed “U-Report #GiveItAShot challenge” which will initially focus on six countries on the continent, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe, will be rolled-out for eight weeks.

It said weekly messages will be sent on U-Report to encourage young people to learn about COVID-19 vaccines. They will be engaged in community actions (both online and offline).

It is estimated that about 10 percent of the adult population on the African continent is vaccinated. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa reached 10,609,112 as of Tuesday, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

It said the death toll across the continent stands at 237,197 and 9,534,559 patients have recovered from the disease so far.