What are vaccines? Vaccines are products that are usually given in childhood to protect against serious, often deadly diseases. By stimulating your body’s natural defenses, they prepare your body to fight the disease faster and more effectively. How do vaccines work? Vaccines help your immune system fight infections more efficiently by sparking your immune response to specific diseases. Then, if the virus or bacteria ever invades your body in the future, your immune system will already know how to fight it. Are vaccines safe? Vaccines are very safe. Your child is far more likely to be hurt by a vaccine-preventable disease than by a vaccine. All vaccines go through rigorous safety testing, including clinical trials, before they are approved for the public. Countries will only register and distribute vaccines that meet rigorous quality and safety standards. Why should I vaccinate my child? Vaccines save lives. Measles vaccines alone are estimated to have prevented over 21 million deaths between 2000 and 2017. Vaccines will help protect your child against diseases that can cause serious harm or death, especially in people with developing immune systems like infants. It’s important to vaccinate your child. If not, highly contagious diseases such as measles, diphtheria and polio, which were once wiped out in many countries, will come back. Can my baby handle all of these vaccines? Yes. Many parents worry that multiple vaccines will overload their child’s immune system. But children are exposed to hundreds of germs every day. In fact, a common cold or sore throat will put a greater burden on your child’s immune system than vaccines. But these diseases are not present in my community. Do I still need to vaccinate my child? Yes. Although the diseases may be eliminated in your country or region, our increasingly interconnected world means that these diseases could spread from areas where they are still present. What is herd immunity? If enough people in your community are immunized against a certain disease, you can reach something called herd immunity. When this happens, diseases can’t spread easily from person to person because most people are immune. This provides a layer of protection against the disease even for those who cannot be vaccinated, such as infants. Herd immunity also prevents outbreaks by making it difficult for the disease to spread. The disease will become more and more rare, sometimes even disappearing entirely from the community. Can a vaccine cause my baby to get sick? Vaccines are extremely safe and serious side effects are rare. Almost all sickness or discomfort after vaccination is minor and temporary, such as a soreness at the injection site or mild fever. These can often be controlled by taking over-the-counter pain medication as advised by a doctor, or applying a cold cloth to the injection site. If parents are concerned, they should contact their doctor or health care provider. Extensive studies and research show that there is no evidence of a link between vaccines and autism. What diseases do vaccines prevent? Vaccines protect your child against serious illnesses like polio, which can cause paralysis; measles, which can cause brain swelling and blindness; and tetanus, which can cause painful muscle contractions and difficulty eating and breathing, especially in newborns. For a list of the most common vaccines and the diseases they prevent, see this list of the most common vaccines and the diseases they prevent . Can I delay the vaccine schedule? One of the best ways you can protect your child is to follow the recommended vaccine schedule in your country. Any time you delay a vaccine, you’re increasing your child’s vulnerability to disease. Can I let my child get the chickenpox instead of getting the vaccine? Although chickenpox is a mild disease that many parents will remember from childhood (the vaccine was introduced in 1995), some children will develop serious cases with complications that can be fatal or cause permanent disabilities. The vaccine eliminates the risk of complications from the disease, and prevents children from infecting their siblings, friends and classmates. What is the recommended vaccine schedule? Immunization schedules vary by country depending on which diseases are most prevalent. You can find an overview of the recommended vaccines and approximate dates from your local health centre, doctor or your government’s Ministry of Health. >> Learn more about immunization >> World Immunization Week
Over 20 million children worldwide missed out on measles vaccine annually in past 8 years, creating a pathway to current global outbreaks - UNICEF
– An estimated 169 million children missed out on the first dose of the measles vaccine between 2010 and 2017, or 21.1 million children a year on average, UNICEF said today. Widening pockets of unvaccinated children have created a pathway to the measles outbreaks hitting several countries around the world today. “The ground for the global measles outbreaks we are witnessing today was laid years ago,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “The measles virus will always find unvaccinated children. If we are serious about averting the spread of this dangerous but preventable disease, we need to vaccinate every child, in rich and poor countries alike.” In the first three months of 2019, more than 110,000 measles cases were reported worldwide – up nearly 300 per cent from the same period last year. An estimated 110,000 people, most of them children, died from measles in 2017, a 22 per cent increase from the year before. Two doses of the measles vaccine are essential to protect children from the disease. However, due to lack of access, poor health systems, complacency, and in some cases fear or skepticism about vaccines, the global coverage of the first dose of the measles vaccine was reported at 85 per cent in 2017, a figure that has remained relatively constant over the last decade despite population growth. Global coverage for the second dose is much lower, at 67 per cent. The World Health Organization recommends a threshold of 95 per cent immunization coverage to achieve so-called ‘herd immunity’.
UNICEF launches #VaccinesWork campaign to inspire support for vaccines
– UNICEF is launching a new global campaign on 24 April to emphasize the power and safety of vaccines among parents and wider social media users. The campaign will run alongside World Immunization Week from 24 to 30 April to spread the message that together communities, including parents, can protect everyone through vaccines. #VaccinesWork has long been used to bring together immunization advocates online. This year, UNICEF is partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation , the World Health Organization (WHO), and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to encourage even greater reach. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will contribute USD$ 1 to UNICEF for every like or share of social media posts using the hashtag #VaccinesWork in April, up to USD$1 million, to ensure all children get the life-saving vaccines they need. Vaccines save up to 3 million lives yearly, protecting children from potentially deadly, highly infectious diseases such as measles, pneumonia, cholera, and diphtheria. Thanks to vaccines, fewer people died from measles between 2000 and 2017 and polio is on the verge of being eradicated. Vaccines are one of the most cost-effective health tool ever invented – every USD$1 spent on childhood immunization returns up to USD$44 in benefits. “We want the awareness that #VaccinesWork to go viral,” said Robin Nandy, UNICEF’s Chief of Immunization. “Vaccines are safe, and they save lives. This campaign is an opportunity to show the world that social media can be a powerful force for change and provide parents with trustworthy information on vaccines.” The campaign is part of a global, week-long celebration under the theme, Protected Together: Vaccines Work , to honour Vaccine Heroes – from parents and community members to health workers and innovators. “More children than ever before are being reached with vaccines today,” said Violaine Mitchell, Interim Director of Vaccine Delivery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We are delighted to work with UNICEF and all the global and country partners around the world who are working tirelessly to ensure all children, especially those in the world’s poorest countries, can be protected from life-threatening infectious diseases.” Despite the benefits of vaccines, an estimated 1.5 million children died of vaccine-preventable diseases in 2017. While this is often due to lack of access to vaccines, in some countries, families are delaying or refusing to vaccinate their children because of complacency or skepticism about vaccines. This has resulted in several outbreaks, including an alarming surge in measles, especially in higher-income countries. Uncertainty about vaccines on digital and social media platforms is one of the factors driving this trend. That is why the centerpiece of this UNICEF campaign is a 60-second animated film, “Dangers,” which, along with illustrated animations for social media posts and posters, is based on the relatable insight that kids, by their very nature, are little daredevils who are constantly putting themselves in danger. Available in Arabic, Chinese, French, Hindi, Russian, Spanish and Tagalog, the video explains that while parents can’t prevent all the dangers their kids get themselves into, they can use vaccination to help prevent the dangers that get into their kids. In addition, UNICEF experts will be answering questions about vaccination, including how vaccines work, how they are tested, why children should receive vaccines, as well as the risks of not vaccinating children in a timely manner. Additional quotes from campaign supporters: Angélique Kidjo, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and Grammy Award-Winning Singer: “Today nine in ten children receive immunizations, but we cannot leave anyone behind. We must reach every child with life-saving vaccines.” Maisa Silva , 16-year-old, Brazilian TV hostess and actress: "I accepted the invitation to participate in this campaign because I know the importance of vaccines for children's health. It is a way to protect children from various hazards we already know. Health is a very serious matter and we must not forget that vaccines work and are necessary. " ###
20 million children miss out on lifesaving measles, diphtheria and tetanus vaccines in 2018
– 20 million children worldwide – more than 1 in 10 – missed out on lifesaving vaccines such as measles, diphtheria and tetanus in 2018, according to new data from WHO and UNICEF. Globally, since 2010, vaccination coverage with three doses of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP3) and one dose of the measles vaccine has stalled at around 86 percent. While high, this is not sufficient. 95 percent coverage is needed – globally, across countries, and communities - to protect against outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. “Vaccines are one of our most important tools for preventing outbreaks and keeping the world safe,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “While most children today are being vaccinated, far too many are left behind. Unacceptably, it’s often those who are most at risk– the poorest, the most marginalized, those touched by conflict or forced from their homes - who are persistently missed.” Most unvaccinated children live in the poorest countries, and are disproportionately in fragile or conflict-affected states. Almost half are in just 16 countries - Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Haiti, Iraq, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. If these children do get sick, they are at risk of the severest health consequences, and least likely to access lifesaving treatment and care. Measles outbreaks reveal entrenched gaps in coverage, often over many years. Stark disparities in vaccine access persist across and within countries of all income levels. This has resulted in devastating measles outbreaks in many parts of the world – including countries that have high overall vaccination rates. In 2018, almost 350,000 measles cases were reported globally, more than doubling from 2017. “Measles is a real time indicator of where we have more work to do to fight preventable diseases,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF’s Executive Director. “Because measles is so contagious, an outbreak points to communities that are missing out on vaccines due to access, costs or, in some places, complacency. We have to exhaust every effort to immunize every child.” Ten countries with highest reported incidence rate of measles cases (2018) Coverage with measles first dose (2010) Coverage with measles first dose (2018) 1. Ukraine 56 91 2. Democratic Republic of Congo 74 80 3. Madagascar 66 62 4. Liberia 65 91 5. Somalia 46 46 6. Serbia 95 92 7. Georgia 94 98 8. Albania 99 96 9. Yemen 68 64 10. Romania 95 90 Ukraine leads a varied list of countries with the highest reported incidence rate of measles in 2018. While the country has now managed to vaccinate over 90 percent of its infants, coverage had been low for several years, leaving a large number of older children and adults at risk. Several other countries with high incidence and high coverage have significant groups of people who have missed the measles vaccine in the past. This shows how low coverage over time or discrete communities of unvaccinated people can spark deadly outbreaks. Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine coverage data available for the first time For the first time, there is also data on the coverage of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which protects girls against cervical cancer later in life. As of 2018, 90 countries – home to 1 in 3 girls worldwide - had introduced the HPV vaccine into their national programmes. Just 13 of these are lower-income countries. This leaves those most at risk of the devastating impacts of cervical cancer still least likely to have access to the vaccine. Together with partners like Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, WHO and UNICEF are supporting countries to strengthen their immunization systems and outbreak response, including by vaccinating all children with routine immunization, conducting emergency campaigns, and training and equipping health workers as an essential part of quality primary healthcare. ###### For photos and broll, please click here . For the 2018 data, click here . The 2018 data will go live only at 09.00 am EST 15 July. About the data Since 2000, WHO and UNICEF jointly produce national immunization coverage estimates for Member States on an annual basis. In addition to producing the immunization coverage estimates for 2018, the WHO and UNICEF estimation process revises the entire historical series of immunization data with the latest available information. The 2018 revision covers 39 years of coverage estimates, from 1980 to 2018. DTP3 coverage is used as an indicator to assess the proportion of children vaccinated and is calculated for children under one year of age. The estimated number of vaccinated children are calculated using population data provided by the 2019 World Population Prospects (WPP) from the UN. Maryana Dzuba, 9, receives her first dose of MMR vaccine on 21 February 2019 in the medical centre of the Lapaivka village school, Lviv region, Ukraine. UNICEF/UN0284080/ Dyachyshyn Maryana Dzuba, 9, receives her first dose of MMR vaccine on 21 February 2019 in the medical centre of the Lapaivka village school, Lviv region, Ukraine, as part of a three-week long catch-up vaccination campaign to increase MMR coverage among school aged children in the region.
Alarming global surge of measles cases a growing threat to children
1. Ukraine 30,338 2. Philippines 13,192 3. Brazil 10,262 4. Yemen 6,641 5. Venezuela 4,916 6. Serbia 4,355 7. Madagascar 4,307 8. Sudan 3,496 9. Thailand 2,758 10. France 2,269 Globally, 98 countries reported more cases of measles in 2018 compared to 2017, eroding progress against this highly preventable, but potentially deadly disease. Ukraine, the Philippines and Brazil saw the largest increases in measles cases from 2017 to 2018. In Ukraine alone, there were 35,120 cases of measles in 2018. According to the government, another 24,042 people were infected just in the first two months of 2019. In the Philippines so far this year, there have been 12,736 measles cases and 203 deaths 2 , compared to 15,599 cases in the whole of 2018. "This is a wake up call. We have a safe, effective and inexpensive vaccine against a highly contagious disease – a vaccine that has saved almost a million lives every year over the last two decades,” said Henrietta H. Fore, UNICEF’s Executive Director. “These cases haven’t happened overnight. Just as the serious outbreaks we are seeing today took hold in 2018, lack of action today will have disastrous consequences for children tomorrow." Measles is highly contagious, more so than Ebola, tuberculosis or influenza. The virus can be contracted by someone up to two hours after an infected person has left a room. It spreads through air and infects the respiratory tract, potentially killing malnourished children or babies too young to be vaccinated. Once infected, there is no specific treatment for measles, so vaccination is a life-saving tool for children. In response to these outbreaks, UNICEF and its partners are supporting governments to urgently reach millions of children in countries around the globe. For example: In Ukraine, UNICEF has provided ongoing support to accelerate routine immunization across the country and address vaccine hesitancy, including additional efforts to stop the most recent outbreak that has claimed 30 lives since 2017. In February, the Ministry of Health, with UNICEF’s support, launched an immunization drive at schools and clinics in the worst-hit Lviv region in western Ukraine, where negative attitudes toward immunization, and previous shortages in vaccine supply, have resulted in low vaccination rates. In the
Leading airlines commit to helping UNICEF in its historic mission of transporting COVID-19 vaccines around the world
UNICEF is today launching the Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative. Under this landmark initiative, over 10 leading airlines are signing agreements with UNICEF to support the prioritization of delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, essential medicines, medical devices and other critical supplies to respond to the pandemic. The Initiative will also act as a global logistics preparedness mechanism for other humanitarian and health crises over the longer term. “Delivery of these life-saving vaccines is a monumental and complex undertaking, considering the sheer volumes that need to be transported, the cold chain requirements, the number of expected deliveries and the diversity of routes” said Etleva Kadilli, Director of UNICEF Supply Division. “We are grateful to these airlines for joining forces with the UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative to support the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines.” The UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative brings together the airlines covering routes to over 100 countries, in support of the COVAX Facility – the global effort aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. Based on the COVAX Facility’s indicative distribution and first round allocation plan, 145 countries will receive doses to immunize around three per cent of their population, on average, starting in the first half of 2021, subject to all requirements being met and final allocation plans. In addition to prioritizing shipments of these life-saving supplies, the airlines will take measures such as temperature control and security, while also adding freight capacity to routes where needed. Their commitments are critical to the timely and secure delivery of vaccines and critical supplies. Safe, timely and efficient transportation of life-saving supplies is critical to supporting access to essential services for children and families. COVAX deliveries and the subsequent vaccination of frontline workers will support health and social care systems to safely resume these critical services. Man next to a plane UNICEF/UNI319459/Rocio Ortega
UNICEF appeals for $3.9 billion in emergency assistance for 41 million children affected by conflict or disaster
Millions of children living in countries affected by conflict and disaster lack access to vital child protection services, putting their safety, well-being and futures at risk, UNICEF warned today as it appealed for $3.9 billion to support its work for children in humanitarian crises . UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children sets out the agency’s 2019 appeal and its efforts to provide 41 million children with access to safe water, nutrition, education, health and protection in 59 countries across the globe. Funding for child protection programmes accounts for $385 million of the overall appeal, including almost $121 million for protection services for children affected by the Syria crisis. “Today millions of children living through conflict or disaster are suffering horrific levels of violence, distress and trauma,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “The impact of our child protection work cannot be overstated. When children do not have safe places to play, when they cannot be reunited with their families, when they do not receive psychosocial support, they will not heal from the unseen scars of war.” UNICEF estimates that more than 34 million children living through conflict and disaster lack access to child protection services, including 6.6 million children in Yemen, 5.5 million children in Syria and 4 million children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC ). Child protection services include all efforts to prevent and respond to abuse, neglect, exploitation, trauma and violence. UNICEF also works to ensure that the protection of children is central to all other areas of the organisation’s humanitarian programmes, including water, sanitation and hygiene, education and other areas of work by identifying, mitigating and responding to potential dangers to children’s safety and wellbeing. However, funding constraints, as well as other challenges including warring parties’ growing disregard for international humanitarian law and the denial of humanitarian access, mean that aid agencies’ capacity to protect children is severely limited. In the DRC, for example, UNICEF received just a third of the $21 million required for child protection programmes in 2018, while around one-fifth of child protection funding for Syrian children remained unmet. “Providing these children with the support they need is critical, but without significant and sustained international action, many will continue to fall through the cracks,” said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Director of Emergency Programmes. “The international community should commit to supporting the protection of children in emergencies.” 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the landmark Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions, yet today, more countries are embroiled in internal or international conflict than at any other time in the past three decades, threatening the safety and wellbeing of millions of children. UNICEF’s appeal comes one month after the children’s agency said that the world is failing to protect children living in conflict around the world, with catastrophic consequences. Children who are continuously exposed to violence or conflict, especially at a young age, are at risk of living in a state of toxic stress – a condition that, without the right support can lead to negative life-long consequences for their cognitive, social and emotional development. Some children impacted by war, displacement and other traumatic events – such as sexual and gender-based violence – require specialized care to help them cope and recover. The five largest individual appeals are for Syrian refugees and host communities in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey (US$ 904 million); Yemen (US$ 542.3 million); The Democratic Republic of the Congo (US$ 326.1 million); Syria (US$ 319.8 million) and South Sudan (US$ 179.2 million). ### Notes to editors: In total, working alongside its partners, UNICEF aims to: Provide 4 million children and caregivers with access to psychosocial support; Provide almost 43 million people with access to safe water; Reach 10.1 million children with formal or non-formal basic education; Immunize 10.3 million children against measles; Treat 4.2 million children with severe acute malnutrition. In the first 10 months of 2018, as a result of UNICEF’s support: 3.1 million children and caregivers received psychosocial support; 35.3 million people had access to safe water; 5.9 million children accessed some form of education; 4.7 million children were vaccinated against measles; 2.6 million children were treated for severe acute malnutrition. Photos and multimedia materials are available for download here: https://weshare.unicef.org/Package/2AMZIFI7QW8B Humanitarian Action for Children 2019 and individual appeals can be found here: https://uni.cf/HAC_2019 On 23 September 2018 in Ukraine, Masha Khromchenko, 11, stands in the kindergarten class room that took a direct hit from a shell Novotoshkivske in the Luhansk region. The shell caused massive damage to the facility and surrounding residential area. UNICEF/UN0243152/Morris VII Photo On 23 September 2018 in Ukraine, Masha Khromchenko, 11, stands in the kindergarten class room that took a direct hit from a shell Novotoshkivske in the Luhansk region. The shell caused massive damage to the facility and surrounding residential area.
World's richest countries grappling with children’s reading and math skills, mental well-being and obesity
On average 40 per cent of children across all OECD and EU countries do not have basic reading and mathematics skills by age 15. Children in Bulgaria, Romania and Chile are the least proficient in these skills. Estonia, Ireland and Finland the most proficient. In most countries, at least 1 in 5 children lack confidence in their social skills to make new friends. Children in Chile, Japan and Iceland are the least confident in this area. The report also contains data on clear areas of progress in child well-being. On average, 95 per cent of pre-school aged children are now enrolled in organized learning programmes, and the number of young people aged 15-19 not in education, employment or training has declined in 30 out of 37 countries. Yet, these important gains are at risk of falling back due to the impact of COVID-19. Countries are also ranked based on their policies that support child well-being and other factors including the economy, society and environment. Norway, Iceland and Finland have the highest-ranking policies and context to support child well-being. On average, countries spend less than 3 per cent of their GDP on family and child policies. “In times of crisis and calm, families need supportive governments and workplaces in order to raise the next generation of happy and healthy citizens,” said Fayaz King, Deputy Executive Director at UNICEF. “An investment in children is a direct investment in our future.” Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, in the first half of 2020 most of the countries covered in the report kept schools closed for more than 100 days while strict stay-at-home policies were also implemented. The report notes that loss of family members and friends, anxiety, stay-at-home restrictions, lack of support, school closures, the balancing of work and family life, poor access to healthcare, combined with the economic loss caused by the pandemic are catastrophic for children’s wellbeing, affecting their mental and physical health, and their development. Before the COVID-19 outbreak the average relative child poverty rate across the 41 countries was 20 per cent. With GDP expected to fall over a two-year period in almost all of these countries, unless governments take immediate remedial actions child poverty will rise. “As the economic, educational and social fallout of the pandemic continues to take hold, without concerted effort, there will be a worsening, devastating impact on the well-being of today’s children, their families and the societies they live in,” said Olsson. “But these risks do not have to become the reality, if governments take decisive action now to protect children’s well-being.” On the basis of the report and these recent developments UNICEF is calling for the following steps to protect and improve child wellbeing: Take decisive action to reduce income inequality and poverty and ensure that all children have access to the resources they need. Rapidly address the serious gap in mental health services for children and adolescents. Expand family-friendly policies to improve work-family balance, especially access to high-quality, flexible and affordable early-years childcare. Strengthen efforts to protect children from preventable diseases, including reversing recent falls in measles immunization. Improve COVID-19 policies that support families with children and ensure budgets that support child well-being are protected entirely from austerity measures. ###