Frequently Asked Questions

To celebrate 100 years of Rotary in Australia and New Zealand, we’ve teamed up with UNICEF to give life-saving vaccines to 100,000 children across the Pacific.




Q: In recent years, there has been a growing anti-vaccine sentiment in some communities where parents refuse to vaccinate their children. What is UNICEF’s reaction?
A: Immunisation saves lives and gives children the opportunity to live a healthy life and to reach their full potential. Children who are not immunised face illness, disability and death.

Immunisation is extremely safe, with very low risk of serious complications or allergic reactions. Erroneous claims about vaccination (that it causes autism, contains harmful “toxins” or damages fertility) are entirely unscientific and false.

When immunisation rates against highly contagious diseases like measles fall below 95%, “herd immunity” breaks down, creating a higher chance for intense transmission and disease outbreaks – with dire consequences for children. Herd immunity also protects babies who are too young to be vaccinated (less than six months) against measles and anyone who is immunosuppressed.

All children, no matter where they live or their circumstances, have the right to survive and to access the best available healthcare – and we each have the responsibility to help them realize these rights. In the countries where UNICEF operates, we work with communities to raise awareness about the importance of vaccines.


Q: Is UNICEF transparent? How do we know the funds raised will be spent in the way promised?
A: UNICEF is a signatory to the international transparency trade initiative.

UNICEF is a signatory to the international transparency trade initiative.

In 2016, the Aid Transparency Index placed UNICEF in the 'very good' category, rated 3/46 organisations. In 2015 UNICEF launched a transparency microsite showing exactly where and when funds raised are spent, which can be found here: http://open.unicef.org/

UNICEF Australia and New Zealand will produce annual reports showing where the funds raised have been spent and the difference this is making. There will also be opportunities for Rotary Representatives to go to the Pacific to see the project first hand to enable them to report back to fellow Rotarians.


Q: In Australia and New Zealand, the boys are also given the HPV vaccine. Why are boys not included in this program?
A: It is essentially a question of available resources and setting priorities. The recommendation from WHO and others is that we should give priority to the girls. Vaccinating the boys will give them protection against some relatively rare cancers and, perhaps more importantly, it can also restrict transmission of the virus. However, the HPV vaccine is the most expensive of the three vaccines that we will be distributing and therefore it would add substantially to the cost of the project to extend the program to include the boys. There is also a question of sustainability as not all counties may be able to afford the continuing cost if the boys were included. Of course, it would be great to be able to vaccinate the boys as well, but the girls are the priority.


Q: Is the Rotary: Give Every Child A Future Program sustainable?
A: One of UNICEF’s key priorities in programme design is sustainability. UNICEF works in partnership with governments to design 5-year country plans, and our programmes fit within this plan. As in this case, UNICEF will set up this program in a way that allows the governments to take over its implementation at the end of the initial funding. Therefore, the impact of setting up the relevant infrastructure, training healthcare workers and working with local communities to encourage them to have their children immunised will have long lasting benefits. The savings to the national healthcare budgets that will arise through lower hospitalisation rates and lower incidence of these diseases will contribute to the ongoing costs of the immunisation program.


Q: Will this project eliminate these diseases totally, like the Polio Plus project aims to do for polio?
A: A: The short answer is no, or at least certainly not in the short to medium term. These viruses are too prevalent and mutate too easily. They are more akin to the influenza virus. It would be very difficult, if not impossible, to eliminate them totally. So, the aim is to provide everyone with a degree of protection so that if they do get infected then the body’s immune system can easily deal with the virus.


Q: As a Rotarian how can I help and will there be an opportunity to visit some of the islands?
A: For the majority of Rotarians, the best way that they can help is by playing a part in raising the necessary money to fund the project, raising awareness of the issues and by using the project to promote Rotary and the work that we do.

This is not a project where we need to mobilise a large group of people from Australia, New Zealand or elsewhere to go into the Pacific to vaccinate the children. For this program to be sustainable it is critical that the implementation be left in the hands of the local people. This project is all about increasing the capabilities of these countries to look after themselves. However, there will be opportunities for some Rotarians to visit and see first-hand what is happening. There will likely be a need to provide people who can assist in the training of healthcare and community workers – a train-the-trainer type program. The people required for this may need to have particular skills and qualifications. For the majority of Rotarians, the best way that they can help is by playing a part in raising the necessary money to fund the project, raising awareness of the issues and by using the project to promote Rotary and the work that we do.

If you have any other questions please direct to: [email protected]