Tracking vaccination, the fun way
How can the people persistently left behind be encouraged to vaccinate?
Vaccine schedules are hard for all of us to remember. For caregivers in fragile and underserved areas, the threat of disease is constant – but the importance of vaccination fades against the daily needs of survival and keeping a family safe. Keeping track of complicated vaccine schedules is especially hard in these contexts – unless you have a little help from a health provider.
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
Almost 7.7 million unimmunized children live in fragile or humanitarian settings.
Of the nine vaccines recommended for all infants in their first two years of life, seven of them require multiple doses.
Up to 12 million local volunteers are engaged in Red Cross or Red Crescent National Societies in 189 countries.
Up to 18,000 volunteers work in conflict-affected areas.
What We Heard
Red Cross volunteers are close to vulnerable caregivers in humanitarian contexts, and understand how people in their areas think about vaccination and the challenges they face getting them. They are best placed to convert generic schedules to prompts that can encourage individual and collective vaccination.
But most training programmes for volunteers tend to focus on memorizing complicated vaccine schedules, which makes it hard for them to convey this information simply to caregivers – and for caregivers to remember it.
We wanted to help make it easier for health workers to remember the vaccination schedule, and easier for caregivers to remember their family’s next vaccination. Instead of creating a thick manual with hundreds of bullet points or making volunteers memorise dosages and timetables, we focused on the concept that a picture is worth a thousand words. And on making our training as much fun for the volunteers as possible.
So we created a game. ‘Vax Facts’ helps Red Cross volunteers test their knowledge of immunization by taking on the role of a parent who must get all of their child’s vaccinations before they turn two. A calendar for parents links vaccinations to important events, from birthdays and religious landmarks, to community milestones. These visual tools are fun but also serve a serious purpose — they help volunteers recall and adapt complex information to increase vaccination coverage.
Vax Facts is just one part of a global training package that uses local context and social norms to motivate parents to vaccinate, and help them remember when to do it.
The best part? It’s all low fidelity material that can be printed simply, and paired with natural resources you can find in even the most far-flung village.