The campaign will cost over CZK 5 million and will be covered by UNICEF. Photo credit: Freepik.

Brno, Dec 19 (CTK) – Czech Health Minister Vlastimil Valek launched a campaign in Brno today to boost vaccination rates among Ukrainian refugees and members of the Ukrainian community in the Czech Republic. The campaign is aimed not just against COVID-19 but also other diseases including polio and measles.

Research suggests that mothers with children coming to the Czech Republic from Ukraine tend to avoid vaccination, said Jindrich Voboril, director of an organisation operating a vaccination centre providing medical aid to Ukrainian refugees fleeing from the Russian invasion.

The campaign will cost over CZK 5 million and will be covered by UNICEF. It will be conducted online in the form of clips, streams, banners, and so on. In addition, six contact campaigns will take place from December to April.

In October, the Health Ministry started a campaign aimed at persuading Czech citizens to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

UNICEF representative Yulia Oleinik said the war in Ukraine has hampered vaccination services in Ukraine, both for children and against coronavirus.

The goal of the campaign is to engage the Ukrainian community in the Czech Republic, by providing information in Ukrainian, and also fighting disinformation, Oleinik said.

Out of almost eight million children in Ukraine, some four million were forced to leave their homes, and 140,000 of them have found a new home in the Czech Republic, Oleinik said.

She added that the vaccination rate in Ukraine ranks among the lowest in Europe. In Ukraine, 20% of children remain unvaccinated against measles, and 13% against polio.

Valek (TOP 09) said vaccination in general is a priority of the Czech Republic within its current presidency of the EU. “Vaccination is one of the greatest achievements of modern medicine, having saved hundreds of millions of people all over the world,” Valek said.

Prague-based Ukrainian physician Vyacheslav Grebenyuk, one of the faces of the vaccination campaign, said that in Ukraine, child vaccination rules are more complex than in the Czech Republic, with more injections and no combined vaccines, which means some doses are being omitted .

Some parents lack documentation to prove theIr vaccinations, which is why their children are treated as unvaccinated, Grebenyuk said.

Voboril said that the Brno vaccination and health centre for Ukrainians has been visited by about 3,000 people so far. Half of them needed a general practitioner, around 27% a gynaecologist, and 17% a paediatrician, Voboril said.

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