UNICEF delivers 240,000 doses of oral polio vaccine to Ukraine
UNICEF delivered 240,000 doses of the oral polio vaccine (OPV) to support Ukraine’s National Immunization Programme and protect more children across the country from the deadly disease. This vaccine is provided to Ukraine as humanitarian assistance.
“It is essential to ensure uninterrupted availability of life-saving vaccines for children and adults in Ukraine and maintain high routine immunization coverage”, said UNICEF Ukraine Representative Murat Sahin. “Every child has the right to good health. As the war and displacement continues, gaps in immunization coverage places children’s health at risk. We need to make sure that those children who have missed their scheduled vaccinations have access to catch-up vaccination.”
Polio is a highly contagious disease that poses a serious threat to the nervous system and can potentially lead to paralysis or death. Medicines to treat polio do not exist. The disease can only be effectively prevented: six doses of vaccine given in line with the vaccination schedule can provide lifelong protection.
The two types of vaccines used for protection against poliovirus are inactivated poliomyelitis vaccine (IPV) administered by injection, and oral polio vaccine (OPV) given as liquid drops via the mouth. The first two vaccinations are given with the IPV vaccine, and the OPV vaccine is usually applied in the remaining ones.
“A full vaccination course helps build lifelong immunity against poliomyelitis. At the moment, the level of preventive vaccinations of children, particularly against three dangerous diseases such as measles, diphtheria and polio, does not reach the recommended indicators envisaged by the annual plan,” said Deputy Minister, Chief State Sanitary Doctor Ihor Kuzin. “The vaccine is available at the regional level. As part of the cooperation of the Ministry of Health with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), it is regularly delivered to Ukraine and distributed to vaccination points. It is therefore essential to ensure that vaccination services are available to all children who need it.”
In April and June this year, UNICEF delivered 543,000 doses of oral polio vaccine (OPV) and more than 267,000 doses of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) to protect Ukrainian children. Together with partners, UNICEF continues to support Ukraine’s National Immunization Programme to help ensure that children are immunized and protected against polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases.
Note to editors
In 2022, to support immunization in Ukraine, UNICEF procured over 2 million doses of vaccines (polio vaccine, oral polio vaccine, Hepatitis B, tetanus-diphtheria, diphtheria-tetanus, measles-mumps-rubella, BCG for tuberculosis, pentavalent vaccine, rabies) at the request of the Ministry of Health and National Health Service of Ukraine. Over 650,000 doses of polio vaccine have already been delivered in 2023.
Furthermore, UNICEF bolstered the cold chain at all levels from national and regional stores to vaccination points:
- UNICEF, under the COVAX initiative, purchased 26 freezers to be installed at the national and regional levels to strengthen the immunization chain.
- Almost 5,200 vaccine refrigerators and freezers procured with the World Bank funds and under installation will support safe vaccine storage at vaccination points.
- To ensure vaccines are available, including in the most affected regions, UNICEF, with its own funds and USAID funds, procured 36 refrigerator vans for vaccine transportation from national to oblast and from oblast to vaccination points.
- In addition, vaccine carriers and cold boxes for vaccine storage and transportation for over 2,500 vaccination points and 800 mobile teams were distributed across Ukraine.
To ensure the vaccination process, UNICEF has already delivered almost 6.2 million syringes in 2023.
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org