Immunization Plus


UNICEF Response



© UNICEF/1998/Accascina
Child being immunized in a Health Clinic, Vanuatu

Pacific Island countries and territories have made significant advances in protecting their infants and children from vaccine preventable diseases since the establishment of the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) in the early 1980s. Notable successes include polio eradication in the region, near disappearance of diphtheria and neonatal tetanus, a degree of measles control, a substantial reduction in children chronically infected with hepatitis B, and improvements in safe injection practice.
Despite these successes  the fragility and vulnerability of many of these programmes has become increasingly evident with recent measles outbreaks, declining coverage in a small number of countries, and evidence from several countries of low levels of measles immunity in children that are inconsistent with reported coverage data.

There are many challenges to achieving immunization in the Pacific. Accessing children will always be difficult and expensive because populations are scattered over vast areas of ocean and, on larger islands, availability of transport and communications is limited. In small and often highly mobile populations, staff availability, capacity and continuity are often significant limiting factors. Many basic aspects of routine EPI services require substantial strengthening in numerous countries.



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