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UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and singer-songwriter Angélique Kidjo is supporting the first-ever World Immunization Week (April 21-28), an international effort to highlight the importance of immunization.

World Immunization Week takes place under the auspices of the World Health Organization and unites countries across the globe with vaccination campaigns and campaigns raising public awareness about the benefits of immunization.

Ms. Kidjo has recorded a UNICEF public service announcement to encourage families to vaccinate their children and end preventable deaths.

“Vaccines save lives. And we are committed to ending preventable child deaths,” Ms. Kidjo said. “Despite incredible strides in global immunization coverage, we have now reached a plateau, if we fail one child, we fail them all.”

Immunization is one of the most effective public health measures, saving an estimated two to three million lives every year.

But more needs to be done.

In 2008, an estimated 1.7 million children died before their fifth birthday from diseases that could have been prevented with vaccines. And in 2010, some 19.3 million infants were not fully immunized, leaving them vulnerable to illness. And gaps in coverage mean that diseases such as diphtheria, measles and polio are making a comeback.

UNICEF is committed to reaching children in the most marginalized communities, particularly those that are geographically remote or in regions affected by conflict.

The first-ever World Immunization Week takes place from 21-28 April 2012. UNICEF offices around the world are engaging in immunization campaigns and raising awareness about the importance of vaccines to child survival. UNICEF is the world’s largest buyer of vaccines for the world’s poorest countries, and has been supplying vaccines to children for over 50 years.

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