UNICEF delivers 350,000 doses of diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus vaccine to Ukraine

26 January 2024
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UNICEF

26 January 2024 — Ukraine has received 350,000 doses of the diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT) vaccine from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to help protect children in the country against deadly diseases.

The vaccines were purchased with funds from the Government of Japan and provided at the request of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine.

“The war can lead to an increased spread of infections due to the displacement of people and the disruption of healthcare services, especially routine immunization programs,” said Munir Mammadzade, UNICEF Representative to Ukraine. “Children must be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases and therefore, UNICEF continues procuring and delivering vaccines for routine immunization to support Ukraine. In the meantime, parents should take responsibility by vaccinating their children as per the immunization schedule and not delay it. If a dose is missed, it should be caught up at the earliest opportunity to ensure that children are healthy.”

Diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus can have serious health consequences. Diphtheria affects the heart, nervous system and kidneys, resulting in the death of one in five patients. Tetanus may affect unvaccinated people through contact with dirt containing spores if they get into cuts or wounds. It affects the nervous system and causes seizures, with a mortality rate as high as 70 per cent. Pertussis is highly contagious, affecting the lungs and causing a rapid, violent and uncontrollable cough, which sometimes leads to a complete loss of air from the lung, that can lead to life-threatening breathing difficulties (apnea) in infants.  

During eleven months of 2023, according to Ukraine’s Ministry of Health, 77.3 per cent of the country’s children under the age of one were vaccinated against diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus.

“Pertussis diphtheria, and tetanus can affect children's health gravely, especially in conditions of war when access to health care could be complicated or temporarily disrupted,” said Ihor Kuzin, Deputy Minister, Chief State Sanitary Doctor. “The Ministry of Health, in cooperation with international partners, has managed to ensure uninterrupted availability of vaccines for routine immunization in each region last year, and this work continues. UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has delivered vaccines that cover part of the country's needs for 2024. It is essential that parents check the vaccination status of their children, and, in case of relocation or missed vaccinations, approach the nearest outpatient clinic and adjust the vaccination schedule.” 

Previously, in June and October 2023, UNICEF procured and delivered over 150,000 doses of diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus vaccine to Ukraine.

Notes for editors

In 2022 and 2023, to support immunization in Ukraine, UNICEF has procured over 3 million doses of vaccines (polio vaccines, Hepatitis B, diphtheria-tetanus for children and adults, measles-mumps-rubella, BCG for tuberculosis prevention, pentavalent vaccine, rabies vaccine and vaccine against COVID-19) at the request of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine.

Furthermore, UNICEF has bolstered the cold chain at all levels, from national and regional stores to vaccination points:

  • UNICEF, under the COVAX initiative, purchased 26 freezers, 24 of which have already been installed at the national and regional levels to strengthen the immunization chain.
  • Almost 5,200 vaccine refrigerators and freezers, that were procured with World Bank funds and installed, will support effective 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 to regions and from regions 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 help ensure the vaccination process, UNICEF delivered almost 6.2 million syringes in 2023. 

Media contacts

Damian Rance
Chief Advocacy and Communications
UNICEF Ukraine

About UNICEF

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  

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