Vaccines protect children from disabling and deadly diseases, enabling them to survive and thrive. They also contribute to healthier communities by shielding us from infectious diseases.
Vaccines are a biological product manufactured in a highly regulated environment to ensure quality. Despite quality control measures, there are risks of production failure, impacting access to supply. There are typically only one to five suppliers for a vaccine and high entry costs to the market, where it takes typically five to seven years to build a facility. However, if there is a surge in demand and a need to increase or scale up production, this can take around three to five years for any manufacturer.
These challenges impact the affordability of vaccine for country immunization programs and the security of supply to support routine immunization programs, in addition to the timely response for surge requirements for unplanned demand as a result of disease outbreaks.
Securing access to affordable and sustainable quality-assured supply requires a strategic approach to vaccine markets and procurement, relying on three pillars:
- Forecasting: Estimating the needed quantity of vaccines, devices and equipment, as the first step to planning for timely, adequate immunization supplies.
- Financing: Planning and mobilizing funds so that they are dedicated to life-saving immunization at the right times.
- Contracting: Committing purchases on a long-term basis to guarantee vaccine production without disruptions or unpredictability in supply.
With its partners, UNICEF leads this work on a global scale, supplying vaccines to reach 45 per cent of the world children under five years of age. UNICEF is committed to ensuring access to affordable, quality-assured vaccines for every child
In addition to supplying vaccines to over 100 countries every year, UNICEF is responsible for securing and managing supply in support of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, including for routine immunization programmes for both the oral polio vaccine (OPV) and the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), supplementary immunization activities, and outbreak response. Furthermore, UNICEF manages rapid access to life-saving vaccines through emergency stockpiles of meningococcal, yellow fever, oral cholera vaccines and Ebola in collaboration with the International Coordination Group on Vaccine Provision, supported by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
Reaching every child
UNICEF supports cold chain logistics to keep vaccines at the right temperatures during delivery, and harnesses solar power, mobile technology and biometrics to make sure that high-quality vaccines reach children even in the most hard-to-reach places.