Uruguayan football star Edinson Cavani has joined the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in a campaign to raise awareness of vaccines’ ability to strengthen the body´s defences, prevent dangerous diseases and save lives.
The striker for the Uruguayan national team and Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain appears in a public service announcement (PSA) encouraging children, parents and the whole family to “make the best goal of their lives” and get vaccinated.
“Games aren’t won by scoring goals alone – you also need a first-rate defence,” says Cavani in one of the Spanish PSAs. He goes on to encourage people to strengthen their defences and “get vaccinated because vaccines work!”
The PSA are part of PAHO’s 16th annual Vaccination Week in the Americas campaign, whose slogan this year is “Strengthen your defence! #GetVax #VaccinesWork!”
The campaign, led by PAHO since 2003 and in which countries from around the region participate, aims to vaccinate more than 70 million people of all ages against diseases like influenza, measles and rubella this year.
The campaign’s football theme, which features materials with children wearing Vaccination Team jerseys, was chosen because of the upcoming World Cup to be played in Russia. Cavani will compete in the World Cup as part of the Uruguayan national team.
Before mass events like the World Cup, PAHO recommends that travellers make sure they’re up-to-date with their vaccines and to get vaccinated at least two weeks before traveling in order to avoid getting dangerous diseases like measles and spreading them to others who have not been vaccinated when they return home.
The Americas eliminated measles in 2016, but the virus continues circulating in other parts of the world.
As of 10 April, more than 15,000 cases had been reported in Europe, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Meanwhile, almost 900 cases were reported in four countries of the Americas in 2017, and more than 380 cases have been reported in 11 countries in the first months of 2018.
In order to maintain measles elimination in the Americas and protect those who are most at risk for severe complications and death from measles, a vaccination coverage rate of at least 95% is needed with two doses of the vaccine in children in their first five years of life.