Immunization remains one of the most successful and cost-effective public health interventions. As the largest single vaccine buyer in the world, UNICEF has helped reach more than 760 million children with lifesaving vaccines over the last 20 years, preventing more than 13 million deaths.
That track record is why UNICEF has been entrusted to lead COVID-19 vaccine delivery around the world through the COVAX facility to ensure that vaccines are distributed fairly. No one is safe until everyone is safe. And as long as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, children will continue to suffer disruptions not just to their health care but to the many other essential services they need to survive and thrive.
Leading up to the pandemic, decades of work by UNICEF and partners had produced tremendous gains for children. As a direct result of immunization, polio is on the verge of being eradicated. All but 12 countries have eliminated maternal and neonatal tetanus, a centuries-old disease that is almost always fatal in newborns. And vaccination is the world's best chance at defeating COVID-19.
Despite that progress, however, conflict, displacement, poverty and vaccine hesitancy still kept millions of vulnerable children globally from getting their vaccinations against such diseases as measles, whooping cough and pneumonia.
Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the numbers of children who didn’t get critical vaccinations increased with potentially dire consequences. Missed vaccinations can cause outbreaks of deadly diseases that were previously controlled – like polio and measles. Low vaccination rates against infections like human papillomavirus (HPV) — which can cause cervical cancer later in girls’ lives — have been highly affected by school closures.
Why are immunizations one of the most cost-effective public health investments?
Immunizations provide a foundation for good health at the start of life, and put children on a path toward a healthier, more productive future
Through community mobilizers, UNICEF educates families about how vaccines keep children healthy, debunking myths and misinformation
Every dollar spent vaccinating kids yields an estimated $54 in economic and social benefits in low- and middle-income countries
As the world's largest procurer of vaccines, UNICEF leverages its market power to keep costs low
We’re most protected from deadly diseases when we are all protected together.