Immunization

Immunization is one of the world’s most cost-effective public health interventions, saving millions of lives and protecting countless children from illness and disability.

Immunization in Kyrgyzstan
UNICEF/Giacomo Pirozzi

The challenge

Immunization is a proven and cost-effective public health intervention, saving the lives of millions of children and protecting millions more from illness and disability.

Since 1995, Kyrgyzstan has been consistently registering immunization coverage of 90 per cent or more for three doses of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP), often seen as the measure of national performance on immunization. 

In 2016, all districts in Kyrgyzstan had 95 per cent coverage for DTP3.

Despite increased vaccine coverage against measles, in 2015, there were 17,779 measles cases in Kyrgyzstan. That means that far too many children are still not protected against this preventable, life-threatening disease.  

While most national averages for DTP vaccination is adequate, only 80.4 per cent of children by the second birth were fully immunized (MICS, 2014). It is not high enough to ensure immunity for everyone. 

Measles outbreak in 2015 and increasing vaccine hesitancy in parts of the country remind us of the need for constant vigilance and for greater efforts to achieve – and sustain – universal routine immunization to protect children against deadly, but easily preventable, diseases. 

A girl gets her vaccination shot
UNICEF/2015/G.Pirozzi
A girl is being vaccinated in the hospital, Osh, Kyrgyzstan. An estimated 19.5 million infants worldwide are still missing out on basic vaccines, which make them vulnerable to diseases.

There are also concerns about ‘vaccine hesitancy’ – a growing mistrust of immunization among some parents, fuelled by myths and misinformation. Such hesitancy may stem from negative media stories linking a child’s death to immunization without the full facts. It may be influenced by the country’s anti-vaccine movements, which spread anti-immunization messages.

Meanwhile, measures to counter vaccine hesitancy and build parental trust in immunization are hampered by a lack of discussion with parents about its importance and the minimal risks. 

Maintaining high immunity in child population  is crucial because Outbreaks in Kyrgyzstan can spread rapidly to other countries and vice versa, signalling the interdependence and vulnerability of all countries.  

The solution

UNICEF knows that the best defence against the spread of vaccine-preventable childhood diseases is a vaccine-protected population and a strong and responsive health system.

The whole world benefits when ALL countries achieve and maintain high vaccine coverage. 

The Government of Kyrgyzstan prioritizes the national immunization programme and invests in health systems strengthening to reach the most vulnerable children with life-saving immunizations.

Working with the Government of Kyrgyzstan, Gavi (The Vaccine Alliance), the World Health Organization, and non-governmental organizations, UNICEF Kyrgyzstan supports the provision of quality-assured vaccine supplies. We also mobilize the funding and technical assistance needed to strengthen the management of national immunization programmes, reach those who are not immunized. 

UNICEF constantly supports the Ministry of Health of Kyrgyzstan in the procurement of vaccines for children.

UNICEF supports national and local information campaigns to educate the public on the critical importance of immunization, while addressing vaccine hesitancy, building public trust, tackling dangerous myths and combating misinformation. We also work closely with the Government to equip parents and communities with the knowledge they need to protect their children. UNICEF Kyrgyzstan supports the training of front-line health workers on how to inform families about the benefits of immunization, and reinforce government efforts to monitor public attitudes and immunization rates to tackle any problems as quickly as possible.

A healthcare worker takes a doze of vaccine
UNICEF
A healthcare worker gets prepared to administer vaccines.

Vaccines are safe. It is far more likely to be seriously injured by a vaccine-preventable disease than by a vaccine. For example, in the case of polio, the disease can cause paralysis, measles can cause encephalitis and blindness, and some vaccine-preventable diseases can even result in death.

UNICEF supports national and local information campaigns to educate the public on the critical importance of immunization, while addressing vaccine hesitancy, building public trust, tackling dangerous myths and combating misinformation. We also work closely with the Government to equip parents and communities with the knowledge they need to protect their children.

UNICEF Kyrgyzstan supports the training of frontline health workers on how to inform families about the benefits of immunization, and reinforce government efforts to monitor public attitudes and immunization rates to tackle any problems as quickly as possible.

A mother with her young daughter gets vaccination
UNICEF/Simon Lister
A mother holds her young daughter getting vaccination in Osh, Kyrgyzstan.
A boy smiles in camera
UNICEF/Simon Lister
Vaccinate your child according to the immunization schedule recommended by the Ministry of Health of the Kyrgyz Republic for safe, proven disease protection. It is important for children to be fully immunized!

Resources

These resources on health and nutrition represent just a small selection of materials produced by UNICEF and its partners in the region. The list is regularly updated to include the latest information. 

Ten outrageous things you may have heard about vaccines (2014) - UNICEF

For every child, vaccines work (2017) - UNICEF

Tracking anti-vaccination sentiment in Eastern European social media networks (2013) - UNICEF