The many faces of immunization.10.5281/zenodo.8166653

World Immunization Week: What do you see?

Reda SadkiGlobal health

English version | Version française

This is the preface of the new publication The many faces of immunization. Learn more… Download the collection

Every day, thousands of health workers, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, get up and go to work with a single goal in mind ­ to ensure that vaccines reach those who need them.

To mark World Immunization Week 2023 (24­–30 April 2023) and the launch of the “Big Catch Up” campaign, the Geneva Learning Foundation (TGLF) invited members of the Movement for Immunization Agenda 2030 (IA2030) to share photographs of themselves and their daily work.

More than 1,000 visual stories were shared.

These are not the carefully composed and technically accomplished shots of the professional photographer: rather, they capture a raw and authentic view of what immunization means in practice.

The transport challenges.

The concerned and loving mothers.

The curious onlookers.

The dialogue between practitioners and community members.

The schoolchildren waving their vaccination cards.

The reams of paper-based data.

This is our second annual gallery of photographs shared by members of the Movement. Get the 2022 World Immunization Week photo book It takes people to make #vaccineswork

Once again, it celebrates their diversity of roles and challenges faced in their daily lives, and their commitment to the IA2030 goal of ensuring that every child, every family, is protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.

If we did it again, it is because we observed that visual storytelling had a profound effect across the Movement.

This effect may be hard to quantify.

On its own, it certainly does not improve vaccination coverage.

And yet, it has everything to do with how health workers perceive themselves, perceive the value of their own work.

Not just knowing but seeing that there are colleagues across the world who are doing the same work, whatever the contexts, is heartening and inspiring.

It can help strengthen or renew resolve and commitment.

It can help make a difference – and sustain it over time.

To achieve their goals, they may be working in health facilities offering immunization services and other forms of primary health care.

Or they may be taking part in outreach or stratégies avancées, delivering vaccines out in the communities where people live.

Alternatively, they may be based in district or regional offices, providing oversight and offering “supportive supervision” ­ constructive feedback and advice to ensure practitioners can do their jobs better.

If they are among the many practitioners engaged in outreach activities, they may face multiple challenges.

They may have to overcome geographical obstacles ­ rivers, flooding, poor roads, or just long distances.

They may have to venture into areas of political instability or conflict.

They may have to make contact with mobile populations whose precise location may be uncertain.

And they may have to enter informal urban settings in a state of permanent flux.

Then, when they reach their destination, they may find that those they engage are not receptive to vaccination.

They may have to spend time with people to help them understand the benefits and safety of vaccines.

Of course, actually vaccinating people is not the only task that needs to be undertaken.

Vaccination programmes rely on a collective of people with a diverse range of roles, such as maintaining essential cold chain equipment, managing data, and working with communities to build support for vaccination.

Community-based volunteers provide a vital link between immunization programmes and local communities.

Effective teamwork is essential.

At the end of a long day, every vaccination practitioner can return home knowing that they have done their bit to make the world a healthier place, and just might have saved a life.

Charlotte Mbuh and Reda Sadki
The Geneva Learning Foundation (TGLF)

Jones, I., Sadki, R., & Mbuh, C. (2024). The many faces of immunization (IA2030 Listening and Learning Report 5) (1.0). Special Event: World Immunization Week. The Geneva Learning Foundation.