David Beckham has encouraged people around the world to get vaccinated, telling fans that Covid has ‘reminded us about the power of vaccines’.
The football star, 45, is fronting a global initiative from UNICEF to inspire confidence and encourage parents to vaccinate their own children against deadly diseases.
In a powerful video, the father-of-four is seen reflecting on not being able to ‘hug’ family and friends during the pandemic, telling viewers ‘we will be together again’ and medicine will help us get there.
The clip, released ahead of World Immunization Week, shows David speaking while images are projected behind him.
He says: ‘In the last year, COVID-19 has shown us how much we take for granted but it has also reminded us about the power of vaccines.
‘The freedom to get outside and spend time with family and friends, the chance to hug the people we love. But we will do these things.
‘We will be together again and vaccines will help us get there. Vaccines work. They protect children and adults and they save millions of lives every year.
‘Vaccination is the reason that most of the world doesn’t have to live with deadly diseases like polio, measles and smallpox.
‘But there are still nearly 20million children around the world who are not getting the routine vaccines they need to be safe.’
David, who has been a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF for nearly 20 years, also added: ‘I have learned through my work with UNICEF just how important they are for the health of our loved ones.
‘Yet too many children around the world don’t get the routine vaccines they need to be safe from deadly diseases.
‘That’s why this World Immunization Week, I’m so proud to be joining UNICEF and partners to encourage parents to vaccinate themselves and their children.’
World Immunization Week – celebrated every year in the last week of April – aims to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease.
Alongside David, UNICEF Ambassadors Orlando Bloom, Sofia Carson, Olivia Colman, Angelique Kidjo, Alyssa Milano, Jessie Ware and others will take part in a series of online conversations about vaccines.
Frontline workers from Benin, Indonesia, Jordan and Peru will also share their knowledge and first-hand experience of the importance of vaccinating children against deadly diseases.
And to further help spread the word online about the effectiveness of vaccines, starting from Friday, UNICEF will join with global partners and funders to rally parents, health workers and the public to become online advocates for vaccines.
The United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign and the Bill & Melinda Gates will also be donating up too $5million for mentions of the hashtag #VaccinesWork on social media to support the campaign.
‘After a year of lockdowns, empty classrooms, missed vaccinations, virtual birthday parties, and cancelled family dinners, people all over the world are now getting a COVID-19 vaccine or anxiously awaiting the moment when they will.
‘And it’s an important reminder of the critical role other vaccines play in allowing us to live our everyday lives,’ said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.
‘Whereas today we all know COVID-19 vaccines are the best hope we have of resuming our normal lives, what remains ‘normal’ for far too many children all over the world is no access to vaccines for any preventable diseases whatsoever. This is not a ‘normal’ to which we should return,’ Ms Fore added.