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Usain Bolt joins PAHO to promote vaccination

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The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) says Jamaican track superstar Usain Bolt has joined the Washington-based organization in a campaign to raise awareness of the importance of vaccination in protecting health and preventing disease.

PAHO said on Wednesday that the six-time Olympic gold medalist and 11-time world champion sprinter appears on posters and in a public service announcement (PSA) encouraging people to get vaccinated.

The PSA, posted on Vimeo, and posters are part of PAHO’s 14th annual Vaccination Week in the Americas campaign, which highlights the life-saving benefits of vaccines.

PAHO said countries throughout the Americas, including those in the Caribbean, celebrate Vaccination Week each year with activities focused on reaching populations who lack regular access to health services.

“Being the best athlete I can means staying healthy — including keeping up to date on my vaccines,” Bolt says in a social media post for the campaign.

In the PSA, he says “I’m up to date on my vaccines. Are you?” urging viewers to “Go for the gold” and get vaccinated.

PAHO said “Go for the gold – Get vaccinated!” is the campaign slogan for this year’s Vaccination Week in the Americas, which takes place from April 23 to 30. It references the upcoming 2016 summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, in which Bolt is scheduled to compete.

“Vaccination is one of the most effective means we have to protect the health of children as well as adults,” said PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne.

“Having a world-class champion like Mr. Bolt supporting our campaign will help us reach more people with information on the benefits of vaccination – and for that, we are enormously grateful,” she added.

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