Staff in Portiuncula University Hospital are once again supporting the UNICEF ‘Get a Vaccine, Give a Vaccine’ campaign by getting their flu vaccination.
For every member of staff who gets a flu vaccine, the Saolta University Health Care Group will donate 10 polio vaccines to UNICEF.
This is the fourth year that staff have been supporting UNICEF in this way and last year a total of 45,500 vaccines were donated on behalf of staff in the Saolta Group of hospitals, including Portiuncula University Hospital.
Joe Canning, UNICEF Ambassador and Galway Senior Hurler launched the campaign this week and in a video to staff said, “I am thrilled to say that Saolta University Health Care Group is once again working with UNICEF this year. It means that every time a member of staff gets their free flu vaccine, Saolta will contribute to the vaccination of five children against polio.
“There is a greater emphasis than ever on the need for as many hospital staff to get the vaccine as possible. In these uncertain times, knowing that we are able to protect our staff, our patients and our families by getting the vaccine ourselves, is a great comfort.
“There has been unprecedented demand for the flu vaccine nationally and we are very fortunate that the national immunisation office is prioritising the vaccine for those aged over 65 and healthcare workers and we have access to a supply of vaccine for at least 75 percent of all staff.
“It is also important that we are able to help UNICEF in their efforts to vaccinate children for polio, a preventable disease that has been eradicated in most countries. The uptake for the flu vaccine from staff has been higher than in any other year and I look forward to being able to donate an even greater number of vaccines on behalf of staff,” Paul Hooton, Chief Director of Nursing and Midwifery for the Saolta University Health Care Group, said.
“Following on from the success of our partnership with UNICEF last year, I am delighted that we are in a position to take part in the ‘Get a Vaccine, Give a Vaccine’ once more. I’m proud of the support from all our staff for this campaign which supports children in very vulnerable living conditions. For each one of us who gets the vaccine, 10 polio vaccines will be donated to UNICEF and at 2 doses per child, we are each able to help protect 5 children from a devastating disease,” James Keane, Manager at Portiuncula University Hospital, stated.
“Every year UNICEF procures and distributes over 1 billion doses of polio vaccines and since 1988, the number of children affected by polio has reduced by 99 per cent – from 350,000 cases in 125 countries, to fewer than 200 cases today in just two countries.
“However, polio virus transmission is expected to increase in Pakistan and Afghanistan and in many under-immunised areas of Africa. In addition to interruptions to vaccination campaigns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these children live in remote, fragile and conflict-affected areas which makes reaching them with vaccines more difficult. Failure to eradicate polio now would lead to global resurgence of the disease, resulting in as many as 200,000 new cases annually, within 10 years.
“The support we are receiving from staff in the Saolta hospitals will really make a difference to our polio vaccination programme at a time when COVID-19 is disrupting life-saving immunisation services and putting children at risk,” UNICEF Executive Director, Peter Power, concluded.