The big picture

© UNICEF/Turkey/Yurtsever
3-day-old Yusuf sleeps in a cradle at a school in Turkey near the Syrian border. Yusuf’s mother, Nadya, in late-stage pregnancy, made the grueling four-day walk her older son to reach the Turkish border. She gave birth on the road. UNICEF provides urgently needed basic items for children in transit camps and host communities as well as vaccines to support the ongoing immunization of Syrian children.

One child dies every 20 seconds from a disease preventable by vaccine.

Children in remote rural regions and impoverished areas of cities in poor and emerging countries are not being vaccinated.

More than seventy per cent of the world’s unimmunized children live in only 10 countries, mainly in Africa and Asia. Large populations and fragile immunization structures make these children difficult to reach.

Along with remote location and weak health services, lack of education and conflict can prevent children from getting the vaccinations they need to survive and thrive. Many developing countries also have inadequate ‘cold chains’ – meaning optimal temperature control for the transport, storage and handling of vaccines. Or, they are not able to manage vaccine stocks effectively, leading to insufficient vaccine supply to immunize all children.

New vaccines, like the ones against the viruses that spread pneumonia and severe diarrhea (pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccine) are still too expensive for many countries to afford – even in middle-income countries.

UNICEF leads global efforts to immunize the hardest to reach children. UNICEF’s immunization programmes focus on: 

  • Expanding immunization coverage and vaccinating the hard to reach
  • Purchasing vaccines for more than a third of the world’s children
  • Improving the cold chain to keep vaccines at a constant cool temperature
  • Engaging communities to explain the importance of child vaccinations
  • Supporting the eradication of polio
  • Working towards a world without measles, rubella and neonatal tetanus
  • Introducing powerful new vaccines that disproportionately affect children in developing countries
UNICEF Image: Chart of rising trends in immunization rates over time



New enhanced search