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Fall 2015


Closing the Gap

Four out of every five children globally have been vaccinated against deadly diseases. What will it take to reach the fifth?

Diplomat Edition


li Maow Maalin was the last man on Earth—to survive smallpox, that is. In 1977 the hospital cook from Somalia went into the history books as the last person to catch this killer disease. In 1980 smallpox was declared eradicated. So far, it is the only disease that has been completely wiped out. But vaccines, like the one that put an end to smallpox, are helping to shrink the risk of other illnesses. When Ali got sick, only one of every five children globally was immunized against deadly diseases. Today that number is four of five. Yet there is still a gap. About 1.5 million

Contents Fall 2015

N ew s i n B r i e f

Vaccines to the Rescue


The Last Days of Polio



A Tale of Two Mothers


Artur’s Story



The Journey of a Vaccine


Here at Home



Antibody: Proteins produced by the body’s cells that destroy invaders, such as viruses Eradicate: Destroy completely; put an end to Immunization: Treatment to protect from a disease (also vaccination) Immunize: Make resistant to a disease (also vaccinate) Polio: A disease that attacks nerve cells and muscles, causing paralysis Smallpox: A disease, sometimes deadly, marked by fever and a skin rash Vaccine: A drug that protects against a disease or infection

UNICEF works in more than 190 countries to help kids survive and grow. UNICEF supplies medicines and vaccinations, clean water, nutrition, shelter, and education. UNICEF also responds when emergencies occur, such as earthquakes, floods, and war.

UNICEF ACT is a publication of TeachUNICEF, the Education Department of U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Visit for additional resources. © U.S. Fund for UNICEF, COVER PHOTO: © UNICEF/ BANA2014-00215/Kiron

children die every year from diseases that can be prevented by vaccines. Why aren’t we reaching these children? In poor areas, there is little money to purchase vaccines. There is also a lack of working vehicles and roads to transport them, and technology to store them properly. In areas affected by war or disaster, it may not be safe for health workers to get in. Despite these challenges the United Nations is calling for an end to major disease outbreaks by 2030. Do you think it’s possible? Ali Maow Maalin thought so. After surviving smallpox, he dedicated himself to vaccinating



Profile: Skylar Peffers

Vaccines to the Rescue


UNICEF ACT n Fall 2015

Ali Maow Maalin with smallpox in 1977. The virus produced pus-filled blisters all over his body.

CDC/ Courtesy of J. Wickett and The World Health Organization


people against polio. That disease has since decreased by 99 percent. Ali died in 2013 and didn’t get to see the end of polio, but you likely will in your lifetime. And immunizations will be responsible for closing that gap. n

How a Vaccine Works A weakened form of the disease germ is injected into the body.

The body makes antibodies to fight these invaders.

If the actual disease germs ever attack the body, the antibodies will return to destroy them.

Adapted from CDC Vaccines and Immunizations page

© UNICEF/NYHQ2004-0651/Pirozzi


A generation ago, polio plagued children in 125 countries. Thanks to vaccines, it is now active in only two.

60¢ The cost of protecting one child from polio

NIGERIA 2014: 6 cases

1985: 959 cases

AFGHANISTAN 2014: 28 cases

Six-year-old Ephraim of Chad, who has been paralyzed by polio, recovers from surgery on his leg.

1985:1,981 cases

No infections since 2014. If no new cases arise, all of Africa will be declared polio-free in 2017.

PAKISTAN 2014: 306 cases 1985: 2,159 cases

Polio in the U.S.: 1921: Future President Roosevelt (FDR) infected 1952: 60,000 cases and 3,000 deaths 1953: Dr. Jonas Salk develops vaccine 1957: Less than 6,000 cases 1979: Last case in U.S.

GRAPH IT! Review the data on the map for the three countries shown. Create a bar graph showing the decline in polio cases over the past 30 years for each country. (Hint: Round data to the nearest hundred.) BONUS On your graph, indicate the percentage by which polio cases decreased for each country since 1985.

Since the 1980s:

2.5 billion children have

been immunized against polio

1.5 million deaths have been prevented

99 percent of new

cases have been eliminated globally

UNICEF and volunteers from a group called Rotary are working together to end polio forever in the next few years. Contact your local Rotary Interact student club to find FRENCH SOUTHERN AND ANTARCTIC LANDS out how you can help: RotaryInteract. AND UNICEF HEARD ACT ISLAND n Fall 2015 MCDONALD ISLANDS

© UNICEF/NYHQ2012-0067/Asselin

Polio Afghanistan: © UNICEF/AFGA2012-00020/Froutan, Pakistan: © UNICEF/NYHQ2011-2527/Zaidi, Nigeria: © UNICEF/NYHQ2007-0285/Nesbitt

The Last Days of


IN Focus

A Tale of Two Mothers Two mothers. Two children. Two very different stories.


magine two mothers. One lives in a run-down city building, the other in a charming suburban house. Both love their children. One morning they wake their babies. It’s time to get vaccinations that will protect their health. The first mother, in the city, carries her baby to a bus stop. The second buckles her baby into a car. The first mother is forced to exit the bus when it breaks down, while the second drives on. The first mother walks up-hill to a crowded clinic, where she waits patiently. The second enters a spotless doctor’s office and is seen right away. Her baby is soon

vaccinated, but the first mother is told that they have run out of vaccines. This story is fictional, but it represents the more than 22 million children worldwide who don’t receive the vaccinations they need. Some live far from health centers and lack transportation. Some live in areas where medicines are in short supply. And yet others are overlooked due to culture, religion, or disability. All parents want to keep their babies safe, but one in five children is denied a fair chance for a healthy future. This is the immunization gap. Together we must work to close it. n

Watch the video version of this story at

The Cold Chain Challenge Most vaccines need to be kept between 35 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit on the journey from factory to family. This “cold chain” is a challenge in poor places with hot climates. Many vaccines become unusable before they reach the children who need them. Airport


Remote Villages Central Store

District Store


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Health Center

BE AN Innovator How would you solve the “cold chain challenge”? Use your imagination to invent a solution. Then sketch and label your design. Read about one way UNICEF is tackling the challenge at CoolVaccines.

Artur’s Story ALAND


© UNICEF Ukraine/2008/ Lambroschini


North One unvaccinated boy’s struggle LATVIA Sea DENMARK LITHUANIA rtur Hudz is an eightyear-old from Ukraine with lively brown NETHERBelarus LANDS M eyes. He excitedly points to GERMANY a picture in a family photo Russia Poland BELGIUM album, but struggles to CZECH LUXEMBOURGthe caption. pronounce REPUBLIC Ukraine Slovakia His deafness is a LIECHTENSTEIN reminder of the disease Hungary AUSTRIA Moldova FRANCEthatSWITZERnearly took his life. SLOVENIA LAND Artur was Romania CROATIA When only five, he developed BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA Black Sea meningitis (men-inSAN MARINO MONACO MONTENEGRO jahy-tis). Harmful bacteria UZ Bulgaria RRA GEORGIA VATICAN attacked the membrane ITALY aroundMACEDONIA AZERARMENIA Artur’s brain, putting him inALBANIA a BAIJAN sleep-like coma for nine days. TURKEY Caspian TURKMENI GREECE When he awoke he was completely deaf. His Sea arms and legs didn’t work properly and he couldn’t MALTA sit up. SYRIA WRITE, DISCUSS... THINK, CYPRUS It took three years of treatment and a hearing TUNISIA Mediterranean Sea LEBANON aid before he was able to return to school. But IRAQ IRAN  PALESTINE Artur was one of the lucky ones. The type of 1 What qualities do you think it took for and his family to deal with his ISRAEL Artur JORDAN meningitis he had kills one in four of its victims. disease and recovery? KUWAIT Luckily there are vaccines that can protect LGERIAchildren from some forms of meningitis. So why How do you think you might cope with 2 LIBYA wasn’t Artur vaccinated? “We didn’t know that a BAHRAIN such a setback if it happened to you? QATAR vaccine against meningitis even existed,” Artur’s EGYPT How do you think Artur’s health 3 UNITED Gulf mother, Svetlana, says sadly. Other parents in ARAB challenges will SAUDI affect him as he grows EMIRATES Ukraine refuse to immunize their children out of up? How might the missed years of ARABIA fear that the vaccines may not be safe. school affect his future? Svetlana is not one of them. “Artur has now Red Sea Your Thoughts: received all of his vaccinations,” she says proudly. Compose OMAN Ukraine is also working to do more. It now NIGER Artur’s family didn’t know about the better educates its healthCHAD care workers in the SUDAN ERITREA YEMEN meningitis vaccine until he got sick. safety and benefits of vaccination. As the workers A Pretend you are Artur. Write an article for a help children around the country, Svetlana will be Gulfinofwhich Adenyou A local newspaper or website DJIBOUTI smiling. She’ll see the immunization gap closing describe your experiences and educate SOMALIBENIN before her very eyes. n others about the availability NIGERIA LAND of vaccines. SOUTH OGO CENTRAL ETHIOPIA








The Journey of a

Finding Solutions

What does it take to reach that one child in five who is not immunized? How does UNICEF get vaccines to the most far-off communities, from the mountains of Mongolia to the rain forests of Rwanda? The journey of a vaccine has many challenges and obstacles along the way. The happy and healthy children at the end make it a mission well worth the effort.

The journey starts at UNICEF’s supply hub in Denmark—a warehouse as big as three football fields—where vaccines are loaded onto cargo planes for delivery around the world.


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© UNICEF/PFPG2014P-0087/Clark © UNICEF/EAPROLAO00234/Holmes © UNICEF/UKLA2014-1863/Owen

On arrival, experts determine which children are most in need and how to reach them. Vehicles can’t always cross rough terrain. Sometimes vaccines are transported by foot or bike. Animals such as camels and reindeer help out, too.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2012-1735/Sokol

© UNICEF/12741NYHQPolioSpotSTILL004/ Lucky8 LLC

© UNICEF/PFPG2015-2721/Panday

With vaccines on the way, community leaders educate families about why immunizations are important and how to get them.

Special cold boxes are used to keep vaccines between 35 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit. Solar-powered refrigerators are also used where other sources of electricity are not available.


Here at Home

In the United States

© UNICEF/NYHQ2006-0981/Noorani

© UNICEF/GHAA2015-00988/Quarmyne

Once vaccines reach their endpoint, it takes trained health workers to make sure they are given safely to children.

vaccines are widely available. The flu vaccine, for example, saved 40,000 lives over the past decade. Some diseases are on the rise, however, due to families choosing to skip or delay vaccinations. In 2014 this led to a measles outbreak— traced to Disneyland in California—that infected more than 170 children. Though more than 90 percent of U.S. children are immunized against measles, this rate is lower in many states. Some families have expressed concerns about the safety of vaccines. Most health officials say that the risks are low and that vaccines are an essential tool in protecting public health. The measles outbreak led to the passage of a new school vaccination law in California, the strictest in the country. It requires all school-children to be vaccinated against major diseases regardless of the religious or personal beliefs of their parents. n

© UNICEF/NYHQ2009-2042/Youngmeyer

Diseases on the Rise

The end of the journey— a life-saving vaccine is delivered.

Measles 648

Mumps 1,100

Whooping cough 28,660 Number of cases in U.S., 2014

For Debate: Do you agree with the law requiring all children to be vaccinated? Research and read at least one article for the law and one against it. Then form your own opinion and share in an essay or group discussion. UNICEF ACT n Fall 2015


Kids Helping Kids Skylar Peffers is a fifth grader at Westchester Intermediate School in Chesterton, Indiana. She is taking action to help children and mothers one shot at a time. Here’s her report:


am 11 years old and attend the Duneland Boys & Girls Club, where I found out about The Eliminate Project. The Eliminate Project is a program to get rid of a disease called maternal and neonatal tetanus around the world. At our club we sell various items for $1.80 or more. We are currently selling giant bags of M&M’s, Gatorade, and water, and every dollar goes to The Eliminate Project. We know that every $1.80 we raise helps protect a life because

the three tetanus shots given to a mother helps the children she gives birth to. And those shots cost $1.80. I love that I get to help people around the world who are struggling with tetanus. It makes me feel like I am making a difference in the world when we can do simple things that make a big impact. I want other kids to know that simply buying a drink to eliminate your thirst can also help eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus. I want all kids

to know they can participate and make a big difference in the life of a mother and her children. Together with the ChestertonDuneland Kiwanis club, we have raised enough money to protect more than 1,850 lives. It feels really great to be a part of something so awesome! I hope kids all over the country get involved in The Eliminate Project. n

You Can Make a Difference Too… Purchase a UNICEF “Inspired Gift” to help immunize a child in need, Get involved with your local Rotary and Kiwanis clubs (see pages 3 and 8) Maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT) is a disease caused when bacteria come into contact with open cuts during childbirth. MNT kills one baby every 11 minutes, and it kills mothers too. UNICEF, Kiwanis International, and partners have helped to eliminate MNT in 18 countries since 2011, and continue to fight the disease in 21 more countries by immunizing adult women, which protects both the mother and babies. You can help by getting involved with your local Kiwanis Kids or Builders Club (


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Be a child’s “Shot@Life” by adding your voice at Write your Member of Congress about supporting global vaccine funding Share your photo and message of hope at “Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday,” Vote for Lego’s “Vaccine Heroes” concept at

Immunizations: Closing the Gap, Diplomat Edition