Working to realize the right to immunization for every woman and child, especially the most vulnerable.
Immunization saves 2 to 3 million lives each year. By protecting children against serious diseases, vaccines play a central role in ending preventable child deaths. UNICEF’s immunization programme helps identify children who have been left behind by health systems, and brings them life-saving care.
Vaccines now protect more children than ever before, but in 2019, approximately 14 million infants did not receive any vaccines. Low immunization levels among poor and marginalized children compromise gains made in all other areas of maternal and child health. Over 1.5 million people die annually from diseases that can be prevented by vaccination.
The immunization programme in brief:
UNICEF works with partners in governments, NGOs, other UN agencies and the private sector to provide immunization to the children who need it the most.
Vaccinating children in every community: Wherever children are not immunized, their lives and communities are at risk. UNICEF tailors new approaches to vaccinate every child in every community – no matter how remote or challenging.
The cold chain: UNICEF and partners harness solar power, mobile technology and telemetrics to make sure vaccines reach all children without losing their effectiveness from exposure to extreme heat or cold weather conditions.
Vaccine supply: With UNICEF efforts, the price of many essential childhood vaccines has reached all-time lows. This has facilitated the introduction of new vaccines to children living in the poorest countries.
Innovation: Working with private and public partners, UNICEF steers investment towards new vaccines, and diagnostic and health technologies.
Disease eradication and elimination programmes: Thanks to steady progress on expanding vaccination, the world has never been in a better position to eradicate polio. Immunization against measles, rubella and tetanus are bringing the world closer to eliminating these devastating diseases.
The immunization programme in numbers
Vaccination saves 2 to 3 million children each year from deadly childhood diseases like measles, diarrhoea and pneumonia.
Measles vaccinations averted an estimated 23.2 million deaths between 2000 and 2018.
In 2019, UNICEF reached almost half of the world’s children with life-saving vaccines.
2.5 billion children have been vaccinated since 2000. And the number of children paralyzed by polio has fallen by more than 99% since 1988, from 350,000 to fewer than 200 cases at the end of 2019.
Thanks to global immunization efforts, maternal and neo-natal tetanus is now endemic in only 12 countries.
UNICEF and partners support immunization programmes in over 100 countries to help realize children’s right to survival and good health. Activities include engaging communities to create vaccine demand, procuring and distributing vaccines and keeping vaccines safe through cold chain logistics. UNICEF also works with partners to strengthen immunization programmes to identify and prioritize children who have missed out on their vaccination.
Why are these efforts needed?
- Immunization saves children’s lives, but nearly 20 million children didn’t receive even the most basic vaccines in 2019, leaving them vulnerable to dangerous diseases.
- Immunization is the most cost-effective child health intervention. Every dollar spent on childhood immunizations yields US$44 in economic benefits. These include savings on medical costs and productivity loss.
- Today, 1.5 million people die each year because they weren’t vaccinated.
- In 2017, one fourth of all deaths among children under five were from pneumonia, diarrhoea and measles. The majority of these deaths could have been prevented through vaccination.