Latin America and the Caribbean sees record decline in routine childhood immunisation

Jamaica urged to ensure full immunisation of children

20 April 2023
Peter Gordon with his goddaughter, Jamelia Simpson (aged 6) at St Joseph's Hospital vaccination site, Kingston.
Peter Gordon with his goddaughter, Jamelia Simpson (aged 6) at St Joseph's Hospital vaccination site, Kingston.

KINGSTON, 20 April 2023 – Latin America and Caribbean has seen the biggest decline in routine immunisation of any region in the world, sliding from 93 per cent to an alarming 75 per cent over the last 10 years. This finding is outlined in the latest UNICEF State of the World’s Children report. Although Jamaica’s strong record of childhood immunisation is evident in the data on the region, there is growing concern about the seven percent of children, under one year old, who have never received a vaccine – referred to as “zero-dose” children.

“While we commend the Ministry of Health and Wellness for its excellent track record on immunisation, this fall-off represents a serious threat to advances the country has made in protecting children and the wider population from life-threatening communicable diseases, such as polio, tuberculosis and diphtheria,” said UNICEF Jamaica Representative, Olga Isaza.

UNICEF Jamaica is calling on the Health Ministry to intensify its efforts to engage families and communities to ensure that every child receives the full schedule of childhood vaccinations. 

“To achieve this, immunisation must be delivered through systems which are responsive to the needs and contexts of communities and families,” said Ms. Isaza.

Through partnerships with the Health Ministry and the Canadian Government, UNICEF Jamaica is working hand in hand with PAHO to strengthen the routine childhood vaccination system to reach all the children who are left behind.

According to the State of the World’s Children report, 2.4 million children under one year – one in four - are missing out on vital vaccines in Latin America and the Caribbean. More than 1.7 million of them are “zero-dose”.  In the region, children in the poorest households are almost three times as likely to be zero-dose than children in the wealthiest households. Despite the decline, the report indicates that support for childhood immunisation remains strong.

“UNICEF stands ready to support the primary health care system to boost childhood vaccinations and close the gap, with a special focus on the most vulnerable families,” said Representative Isaza.


Notes to Editors:

The State of the World’s Children is UNICEF’s flagship report. The 2023 edition is the first edition of the report solely dedicated to routine immunisation.

After 00:01 GMT on 20 April, you can download the report from the UNICEF website here.

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Communication Specialist
Tel: ‭+1 (876) 279-8339‬


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