UNICEF says it has been ‘blown away’ by the Irish response to its vaccination donation scheme – in which more than a million Covid-19 vaccines have been donated to some of the poorest countries in the world.
The global charity said its support from Irish individuals and companies for its ‘Get a Vaccine, Give a Vaccine’ campaign that was only launched a few weeks ago has been phenomenal.
"Thanks to support from the Irish public for Unicef’s ongoing ‘Get a Vaccine, Give a Vaccine’ campaign, one million life-saving Covid-19 vaccines will now be delivered to healthcare workers and vulnerable people in countries with little or no access to vaccines,” the charity said.
The campaign has raised more than €2.5m since it was launched, calling not only on Irish people to get the jab but to donate one to someone in need in the developing world.
The Irish campaign – supported by Unicef ambassador, actor Liam Neeson, who appeared in the campaign’s video and radio ads – is part of the charity’s “historic global effort to ensure fair and safe access to Covid-19 vaccines”.
"Unicef has developed the largest vaccination cold chain in the world for childhood immunisation, and is now using this to deliver Covid vaccines. This critical worldwide effort aims to support the delivery of two billion Covid vaccine doses this year alone,” it said.
Meanwhile, Unicef Ireland executive director Peter Power said the charity has been inspired by the response from individuals and companies across Ireland.
“We have been simply blown away by the incredible gratitude and solidarity for others that people in Ireland have shown,” he said.
"We have never witnessed anything like it before. We all know that nobody is safe until everyone is safe – and that no child is safe until everyone they rely on is safe.
"That is why Unicef is putting everything we have got into delivering Covid-19 vaccines to the most vulnerable families, health workers, and high-risk people on our planet,” he said.
“It is astonishing that some countries in the world have vaccination rates of less than 5pc, while the wealthiest countries have vaccinated the vast majority of their populations,” he added.
"By supporting this campaign in huge numbers, Irish people have recognised that inequity – and have taken this tangible expression of solidarity with people who have no access to vaccines.”
He added: “This is the most critical mission in the world right now.”