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© UNICEF/Niaz2014
Children displaced by the military operation in North Waziristan, Pakistan receive polio vaccine at a camp in Bannu.

All children have a right to survive and thrive

Immunization is one of the most powerful tools to end preventable child deaths, saving up to 3 million children a year.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child states that all children have the right to live and have equal access to quality healthcare. Today, four out of five children around the world are vaccinated against deadly diseases, compared to only 20 per cent just over 30 years ago.

Yet immunization is a critical, unfinished agenda in child health. Nearly 1 in 5 infants are still left out of the life-saving benefits of vaccines and are exposed to a far higher risk of death and disability. An estimated 1.5 million unvaccinated children die each year.

Why do children miss out on immunization?

In 2013, 21.6 million children were not vaccinated. Children who miss out on vaccinations are often the most deprived. They typically also lack food and clean water, live in poor housing, do not go to school and cannot access even basic health care. Gaps in immunization affect children in rural and urban areas, and in poor and middle-income countries. Conflict can also make it impossible for vaccinators to reach children. Others are excluded because they are from ethnic minorities, or live deep in city slums, where health services operate poorly – if at all. Religious or traditional beliefs can lead some communities to refuse vaccination, while others, such as nomads, refugees or migrants, are continuously on the move.

Over 70 per cent of children who did not receive the three recommended doses of the combined diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTP3) vaccine, live in Africa and South-East Asia. More than a third live in India alone.



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