• COVID-19 vaccine rollout is our greatest chance at ending this pandemic and enabling economic recovery.
  • Misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines is causing hesitancy and reducing uptake.
  • Businesses have a vital role to play in sharing factual information with their employees that also benefits the wider community.

The past year has provided a sobering glimpse of life in a world ravaged by infectious disease. A world in which lives, livelihoods and entire economies are devastated by a rapidly expanding global pandemic.

But the year has also brought into sharp relief the power of vaccines. Vaccines are not only among the greatest advances of modern medicine – they also represent the world’s best hope of ending this pandemic and putting all economies on the road to recovery and growth.

The global business community understands this better than anyone. Companies know that the swift, equitable rollout of COVID-19 vaccines is critical to lasting economic recovery.

But they also understand – as do governments – that any recovery will be short-lived if we fail to take this opportunity to build stronger health systems and services in the years ahead.

The service disruptions brought on by COVID-19 reminded us how much work we have to do. For example, the interruptions in the delivery of vaccines for other diseases risk a devastating rise in preventable disease and child deaths. Especially when some 14 million children globally each year do not receive any vaccines against preventable disease. Vaccines are simply out of reach for children living in communities that are affected by conflicts, in remote rural locations and in urban slums and suffer multiple deprivations.

For these children, we cannot go back to normal, because normal was never good enough. Instead, we need to take this opportunity to reimagine how we deliver immunization services and invest in health services that can reach all children. No matter who they are or where they live.

health and healthcare, COVID

How has the Forum navigated the global response to COVID-19?

One year on: we look back at how the Forum’s networks have navigated the global response to COVID-19.

Using a multistakeholder approach, the Forum and its partners through its COVID Action Platform have provided countless solutions to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, protecting lives and livelihoods.

Throughout 2020, along with launching its COVID Action Platform, the Forum and its Partners launched more than 40 initiatives in response to the pandemic.

The work continues. As one example, the COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs is supporting 90,000 social entrepreneurs, with an impact on 1.4 billion people, working to serve the needs of excluded, marginalized and vulnerable groups in more than 190 countries.

Read more about the COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, our support of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemics Preparedness and Innovations (CEPI), and the COVAX initiative and innovative approaches to solve the pandemic, like our Common Trust Network – aiming to help roll out a “digital passport” in our Impact Story.

And a critical part of building more effective health systems – and achieving better health outcomes overall – is boosting vaccine confidence and trust in these lifesaving interventions. Without trust, vaccines are little more than vials in a clinic refrigerator.

Unfortunately, throughout the pandemic, we have seen the spread of misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines which can lead to hesitancy to receive these vaccines. If this misinformation and resulting hesitancy were to spill over into existing and new childhood vaccinations, we could see decades of lifesaving progress reversed.

Combatting COVID-19 will require that all of us – businesses, employees and customers alike – do our part so that everyone is protected and safe.

But it also requires us to make information more accessible than misinformation, and to answer any questions and concerns swiftly and accurately. Both inside companies and with customers, as well as in communities, business has a key role to play.

1. Build vaccine confidence and promote uptake of vaccines

The equation is stark: if the world is not vaccinated, COVID-19 will continue mutating and spreading, delaying economic recovery and growth for families and communities alike. At the same time, the more people that get vaccinated, the more inclined they will be to resume economic activities that were not possible during the pandemic. The greatest economic stimulus is to get the greatest number of people vaccinated as quickly as possible. Businesses must be part of this.

2. Encourage employees to get vaccinated as soon as possible

Make sure they are equipped with the factual information they need about the benefits of vaccines to build trust and confidence in them. While many employees are working from home, it is especially critical to send out regular updates on company policies, benefits and reliable health information from governments. Use credible communicators like doctors or scientists to deliver your message, and refer your employees to UNICEF or the World Health Organization (WHO) to learn more about vaccines, including resources like this guide on developing messages and content to build trust.

3. Bring partners on board

Leverage networks across governments, civil society, media and industry associations to share best practices and amplify messaging around the safety of all vaccines, not only for COVID-19. As part of this work – and to coincide with World Immunization Week – UNICEF is rolling-out one of our biggest campaigns in history: #VaccinesWork. Along with critical partners like WHO and GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, we are also supporting the launch of the Immunization Agenda 2030, the collective vision for global immunizations over the next decade. These initiatives will bring together influencers, partners and world leaders in a global effort to build vaccine confidence at this critical moment in history.

Join us as we take this historic opportunity to not only end this pandemic, but to continue our vital work to end preventable diseases by building confidence and trust in equitably delivered vaccines that have saved tens of millions of lives over the decades.