UNICEF partners with Saolta University Health Care Group on flu vaccine campaign

Saolta University Health Care Group launch 2018/2019 Flu Vaccine Campaign in partnership with UNICEF

“Get a vaccine, give a vaccine” 1 Flu Vaccine = 10 Polio Vaccines

Images from campaign launch available here

Following the success of last year’s flu vaccine campaign Saolta University Health Care Group have once again partnered with UNICEF to launch the 2018/2019 flu vaccine campaign “Get a vaccine, give a vaccine”.  This year’s campaign was officially launched in University Hospital Galway today, Thursday, 27 September by UNICEF ambassador and Galway hurler, Joe Canning. For every flu vaccine given to staff, 10 polio vaccines will be donated to UNICEF. UNICEF is committed to the eradication of polio and through this promotional campaign staff and students can support this valuable initiative.

Commenting John Shaughnessy, Director of HR Saolta University Health Care Group said, “Saolta University Health Care Group are delighted to partner with UNICEF again this year. The group donated a total of 36,910 polio vaccines to UNICEF earlier this year as a result of the “Get a vaccine, give a vaccine. This donation will assist UNICEF with their global effort to eradicate polio in three countries (Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria).

“A total of 3,691 health care workers (37.1%) in the Saolta Group received their flu vaccine in 2017/2018; this figure reflects a 50% improvement on last year’s uptake rates of 24%.

“Vaccination of healthcare workers has been shown to reduce flu-related deaths by 40% and as we approach flu season, we encourage our health care workers to get the vaccine to protect themselves, their families and their patients. For the next number of months, we will have a number of clinics available at each hospital site to make it easier for our staff to avail of the vaccine. We have also trained a number of staff as Peer Vaccinators who go directly to wards and units to provide the vaccine to their colleagues.

Our staff can know that as well as protecting themselves and those around them, they are also making an important contribution to UNICEF’s work.”

UNICEF Ambassador Joe Canning added, “I am thrilled to support the ‘Get a vaccine, give a vaccine’ campaign again this year. It is a simple yet powerful campaign that means UNICEF can be there for children in greatest need. I’ve seen first-hand the life-changing impact that simple medical interventions like this can bring to children in the countries where UNICEF works, and as a proud Galway man, I’m delighted to see the passion and commitment shown by staff at the Saolta Group here in my home county. It’s a real team effort, and the impact on children’s lives will be enormous.”

Peter Power, Executive Director of UNICEF Ireland said, “We’re delighted to continue our innovative campaign with the Saolta Group this year. Last year the campaign enabled UNICEF to purchase 36,910 polio vaccines and delivered such a positive impact on children, both here in Ireland and around the world. Thanks to commitment and drive shown by everyone involved, UNICEF ensures that some of the most vulnerable children in the world can receive the polio vaccination, helping them to survive and thrive. That is a central part of UNICEF’s mission, and we are glad to support this initiative.”

Dr Aine McNamara, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, HSE West added, “Healthcare workers are at increased risk of exposure and infection to influenza. Every year at least 20% of healthcare workers are infected with influenza. They are at risk of passing it on to their family, colleagues and patients. Influenza can be severe, causing serious illness and death, especially in the very young, the elderly, cancer patients and pregnant women. Even those who are healthy can get seriously ill from influenza. The seasonal flu vaccine is a safe (millions of doses have been given over the past 60 years) effective way to help prevent influenza, avoid hospitalisation and reduce flu related deaths and illnesses.”

– Ends –

Note to Editors

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UNICEF Ambassador and Galway hurler Joe Canning getting his flu vaccine from Lorraine Courtney, Peer Vaccinator, UHG.

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Pictured at the launch of the Flu Vaccine Campaign L:R Maurice Power, CEO, Saolta University Health Care Group; Joe Canning, UNICEF Ambassador; Pamela Normoyle, Flu Vaccine Lead, Saolta University Health Care Group; Dr Aine McNamara, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, HSE West and Jean Kelly, I/Chief Director of Nursing and Midwifery, Saolta Univeristy Health Care Group.

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Pictured at the launch of the Flu Vaccine Campaign L:R Lorraine Courtney, Peer Vaccinator, UHG; Maurice Power, CEO, Saolta University Health Care Group; Danny Smits, UNICEF; Pamela Normoyle, Flu Vaccine Lead, Saolta University Health Care Group; Joe Canning, UNICEF Ambassador; Heather Helen, Peer Vaccinator, UHG; Mairead McNulty, Peer Vaccinator, Community Healthcare West and Helen Burke, Peer Vaccinator, UHG.


UNICEF is the United Nations’ organisation for children. It was established in the aftermath of World War II to help refugee children. Today UNICEF fights for children’s rights and promotes the well-being of every child in 190 countries. UNICEF began operating in Ireland in 1962. UNICEF Ireland is funded by voluntary donations.

Ending polio saves lives and resources.

Polio is a highly infectious but entirely preventable disease which invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis or death in a matter of hours.  It mostly affects children under 5 years’ old who live in conflict-affected or service-deprived areas with poor sanitation and health care.  Polio disproportionally affects the most excluded, hard-to-reach and vulnerable children.  Millions of health workers are helping UNICEF reach children who have never been vaccinated before, providing an unprecedented opportunity to finish the job and eradicate polio.

Until polio is eradicated everywhere, all children across the globe remain at risk: it only takes one polio-infected traveller to re-introduce the disease to any polio-free country. Polio anywhere remains a threat to children everywhere. Moreover, if the polio eradication efforts will stop before the job is done, it will likely result in the global resurgence of the disease, with an estimated 200,000 new cases every year within 10 years.

UNICEF is one of the spearheading partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) established in 1988 with the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to eradicate this disease from the face of earth.  Since 1988, GPEI has achieved tangible results for children:

•             The number of children paralysed by polio cases has been reduced by 99.9% percent: from more than 350,000 in 1988 to just 74 in 2015, 37 in 2016 and 22 in 2017.
•             In 1988 polio was endemic in 125 countries. Today polio is endemic in only three: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.
•             The world has gone from 80 cases of polio every 2 hours to less than 80 cases in 2015.
•             An estimated 15 million people today are walking – who would otherwise have been paralyzed by polio.
•             There were 3 types of wild polio virus (type 1, type 2 and type 3): type 2 was declared eradicated in 1999 and type 3 has not been detected anywhere in the world for almost five years. This is the evidence that polio can be eradicated and now all the efforts are on the eradication of type 1.