Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Sharing a Global Health Success Story With a Simple Party Trick

May 06, 2014

The positive impacts of vaccines are clear and simple: they prevent deaths and disabilities in children. 

But other fascinating aspects of vaccines are less well known. For instance, vaccination is one of the very best converters of money into health, or what business and policy folks term “ROI – return on investment”. 

Another hidden fact is the amazing success vaccines have achieved as a global public health campaign. At my organization Gapminder, we were curious: does the public know what percentage of children in the world actually get the basic vaccines today? 

This is what the public in various countries answered through online surveys:

  • Sweden: 32%
  • Norway: 36%
  • USA 42%

In fact, 83% of all children born today get the basic vaccines. Only 2 in 10 in US and only an embarrassing 1 of 10 in Scandinavia knew the right answer. You can read more results from the ignorance survey we conducted here.

So, media, schools, web and activists alike have all utterly failed in sharing the good news about vaccination. Why is this such a problem? Because, while 83% is remarkable, life-saving vaccines remain out of reach for more than 22 million children in the world’s poorest countries. To reach 100% we need to make people more aware of both the success that is possible and the challenges that remain.

The topic may be complex, but you don’t need to be a scientist or speak from a stage to try and change this. Every one of us can help to change minds about the good news of vaccines, even with something as unassuming as a jug of fruit juice! See for yourself in our new video, as Bill Gates and I demonstrate how you can share this global health success story with a simple party trick at your next gathering.

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