UNICEF delivers almost 240,000 doses of life-saving vaccines for children in Ukraine

26 October 2023
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UNICEF

KYIV, 26 October 2023 — The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) delivered a new batch of critical vaccines to support Ukraine’s National Immunization Programme and protect children across the country from dangerous diseases like polio and diphtheria. UNICEF, a trusted partner of Ukraine’s Health Ministry, procured and delivered additional 156,960 doses of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), 50,000 doses of Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine and 32,000 doses of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP) vaccine. 

The procurement and delivery of HiB and DTP vaccines was made possible by funding from the Government of Japan. 

“Children have the right to be healthy and protected from vaccine-preventable diseases. It is pivotal to ensure the uninterrupted availability of vaccines for routine immunization in Ukraine, despite numerous challenges amidst the ongoing war,” said Murat Sahin, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine. “UNICEF is supporting vaccination by bringing vaccines to protect children. It is our priority to help ensure that these life-saving vaccines are in stock in health facilities throughout Ukraine so all children can be vaccinated. We call on parents and guardians to check your child’s immunization schedule and make sure your child is protected.”

The vaccines delivered by UNICEF provide effective protection from a range of diseases: 

  • Polio is a highly contagious disease that poses a serious threat to the nervous system and can potentially lead to paralysis or death. Paralysis can be lifelong, and many polio-affected persons can be disabled. The only way to effectively prevent this disease is through vaccination. Protection weakens if any vaccinations are missed, therefore a catch-up vaccination is required.  Even though the World Health Organization (WHO) has recently declared the closure of the 2021 outbreak of poliovirus in Ukraine, polio remains a threat globally and routine vaccination should continue according to the vaccination schedule. 
  • A Hib infection can cause serious complications. Haemophilus influenzae type b is a type of bacteria that can cause life-threatening diseases. Babies and children are most at risk of getting seriously ill. Even with successful treatment, there may be lasting effects such as hearing loss, seizures, loss of limbs and learning disabilities. Vaccination is the best way to prevent serious Hib infections. 

  • Pertussis, diphtheria and tetanus can have serious consequences for health. The combined DTP vaccine provides effective protection against three dangerous infections.  Diphtheria affects the heart, nervous system and kidneys, resulting in death for 1 in 5 patients. Tetanus may infect unvaccinated individuals through contact with dirt containing its spores if it enters cuts or wounds. It damages the nervous system and causes seizures, with a mortality rate as high as 70 per cent. Pertussis bacteria, highly contagious, infect lungs and cause rapid, violent and uncontrollable coughing, leading to complete air loss from the lungs. In infants, it may result in life-threatening pauses in breathing (apnea). 

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Note to editors

In 2022 and 2023, to support immunization in Ukraine, UNICEF has procured over 2.89 million doses of vaccines (polio vaccines, Hepatitis B, diphtheria-tetanus for children and adults, measles-mumps-rubella, BCG for tuberculosis, pentavalent vaccine, rabies) at the request of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine.

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.

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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