Vaccinate a child
When any child dies it's a tragedy, but it's worse when that death could have been prevented. No child should die from preventable causes.
Yet each year, around 5 million children under 5 lose their lives mostly to diseases that are entirely preventable. Many of these young lives could be saved by something as simple as a vaccine.
Vaccines save more than five children's lives every minute^.
The cost of a vaccine starts at just a few cents, but you can't put a price on the protection it offers. Keeping a child safe from deadly childhood diseases such as measles, pneumonia and polio, via immunisation, is the most important healthcare intervention we have at our disposal.
Millions of children miss out on life-saving vaccines every year - please help us reach and protect them this year.
Donate now to help save young lives.
Why are children missing out on vaccines?
In 2021, 25 million children missed out on basic vaccines services, up 6 million on 2019. The majority of countries experienced a drop-off due to the disruption caused by Covid-19.
Sadly, it continues to be the children who need vaccines the most that are least likely to receive them. Children who are poor and marginalised, those affected by war and disaster, or living in remote and hard-to-reach areas, or children born in developing countries, are the ones most likely to miss out.
It’s urgent that we reach these children with life-saving vaccine protection.
Just $35 can provide 50 doses of measles vaccine to protect children against this deadly disease*.
On 6 September 2022, Rehman bakhsh, a government vaccinator giving rota vaccine drops to Bisma, (3-months) at a UNICEF supported medical camp in flood affected Mohammad Dani village, District Lasbela, Balochistan province, Pakistan.
What is UNICEF doing to vaccinate children?
Working alongside our partners, UNICEF reaches almost half of the world’s children every year with lifesaving vaccines.
We do whatever it takes to reach children with vaccines. Over mountains, through deserts and into war zones. We go by boat, plane, bicycle, foot and donkey - by any means necessary to reach those kids who need our protection.
We have vaccine programmes in over 100 countries. On the ground we work with governments, the private sector, NGOs, and other UN agencies to engage communities, procure and distribute vaccines, keep supplies safe and effective, and help ensure affordable access for even the hardest-to-reach families.
Join us now to protect children against preventable diseases.
Appeal information updated 15th November 2022.
Your life-saving monthly donations will support this appeal for 6 months. After that they will go into our Global Parent fund to save and protect children worldwide.
Vaccines are a simple, low-cost and effective way of safeguarding a child’s health.
Quite simply, vaccines are one of the greatest advances of modern medicine. For over two centuries, vaccines have safely reduced the scourge of diseases like polio, measles and smallpox, helping children grow up healthy and happy. They have helped slash child mortality rates in half, and each year vaccines save between 2 to 3 million young lives+, even before the arrival of COVID-19.
UNICEF vaccinates almost half of the world's children every year+, so by donating today, you’ll be ensuring we can continue to protect children everywhere from deadly and often debilitating diseases.
You'll be protecting children from right here in the Pacific, to the Congo, Yemen, Syria and more.
Every dollar you give will help protect children, and set them up for a brighter, healthier future.
A 'perfect storm' for measles
Published on Wed Jun 08 2022
Children are in danger worldwide, as conditions become ripe for serious outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases. Pandemic-related disruptions, increasing inequalities in access to vaccines, and the diversion of resources from routine immunisation are leaving children without protection against measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases.
The number of cases of measles case leapt 79% in the first two months of this year, compared with 2021.
More than 17,000 measles cases were reported worldwide in January and February. And as measles is very contagious, cases tend to show up quickly when vaccination levels decline. UNICEF is concerned that outbreaks of measles could also be a precursor to outbreaks of other diseases that do not spread as rapidly.
The risk for large outbreaks of preventable diseases has increased as communities relax social distancing practices and other preventive measures for COVID-19. In addition, with millions of people being displaced due to conflicts and crises including in Ukraine, Ethiopia, Somalia and Afghanistan, disruptions in routine immunization and COVID-19 vaccination services, lack of clean water and sanitation, and overcrowding increase the risk of vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks.With support from UNICEF, the ministry of Public health in Yemen has launched an emergency Measles & Rubella vaccination campaign, aiming to vaccinate around 1.35 million children (aged 6m-10y) across 10 Yemeni provinces.
Measles can be lethal for a child. The virus also weakens the immune system and makes a child more vulnerable to other infectious diseases like pneumonia and diarrhoea.
Measles usually takes hold in settings that have faced social and economic hardships due to COVID-19, conflict, or other crises, and have chronically weak health system infrastructure and insecurity.
“Measles is more than a dangerous and potentially deadly disease. It is also an early indication that there are gaps in our global immunization coverage, gaps vulnerable children cannot afford,” said Catherine Russell, UNICEF Executive Director.
“It is encouraging that people in many communities are beginning to feel protected enough from COVID-19 to return to more social activities. But doing so in places where children are not receiving routine vaccination creates the perfect storm for the spread of a disease like measles.”
In 2020, 23 million children missed out on basic childhood vaccines This was the highest number since 2009 and 3.7 million more than in 2019.
As of April 2022, the agencies report 21 large and disruptive measles outbreaks around the world in the last 12 months. Most of the measles cases were reported in Africa and the East Mediterranean region.
Countries with the largest measles outbreaks since the past year include Somalia, Yemen, Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Ethiopia. Insufficient measles vaccine coverage is the major reason for outbreaks, wherever they occur.Kambale Joseph, 73, lost the use of a leg to polio. He is now a vaccinator and educates families about the importance of vaccination.
As of 1 April 2022, 57 vaccine-preventable disease campaigns in 43 countries that were scheduled to take place since the start of the pandemic are still postponed, impacting 203 million people, most of whom are children. Of these, 19 are measles campaigns, which put 73 million children at risk of measles due to missed vaccinations.
In Ukraine, the measles catch-up campaign of 2019 was interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic and then by the war. Routine and catch-up campaigns are needed wherever access is possible to help make sure there are not repeated outbreaks as in 2017-2019, when there were over 115,000 cases of measles and 41 deaths in the country – this was the highest incidence in Europe.
To protect children against measles, coverage of 95 per cent or above, with two doses of the safe and effective measles vaccine is required. However, COVID-19 pandemic-related disruptions have delayed the introduction of the second dose of the measles vaccine in many countries.
As countries work to respond to outbreaks of measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases, and recover lost ground, UNICEF works with partners to support efforts to strengthen immunization systems by:
Restoring services and vaccination campaigns so countries can safely deliver routine immunization programmes to fill the gaps left by the backsliding
Helping health workers and community leaders communicate actively with caregivers to explain the importance of vaccinations
Rectifying gaps in immunization coverage, including identifying communities and people who have been missed during the pandemic
Ensuring that COVID-19 vaccine delivery is independently financed and well-integrated into overall planning for immunization services so that it is not carried out at the cost of childhood and other vaccination services
Implementing country plans to prevent and respond to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases and strengthening immunization systems as part of COVID-19 recovery efforts.
After 5 years - polio is back in Africa.
Published on Wed Apr 20 2022
In late March, an outbreak of deadly polio was confirmed in Malawi. This has triggered a mass vaccination campaign to protect more than 9 million children across four countries.
“This is the first case of wild polio detected in Africa for more than five years and UNICEF is working closely with governments and partners to do everything possible to stop the virus in its tracks” says Mohamed M. Fall, UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa.
The vaccination campaign will be led by the governments of Malawi, and neighbouring Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia, with the support of UNICEF.
Three more rounds of vaccination will follow in the coming months, covering a total of more than 20 million children.
“Polio spreads fast and can kill or cause permanent paralysis.”
UNICEF, the WHO and other partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative are supporting governments with the urgent drive, after it was confirmed last month that a three-year-old girl was paralysed by wild poliovirus in Lilongwe in Malawi.
It is most common to contract polio by drinking water that's contaminated with the faeces of someone carrying the virus. Those Kids under 5 and living in areas with poor sanitation are most at risk.
“A regional response is vital as polio is extremely contagious and can spread easily as people move across borders,” says Mohamed M. Fall.
“There is no cure for polio, but the vaccine protects children for life".
"We are working with the World Health Organization and other partners to make sure parents, as well as community and religious leaders, know how important it is that every child receives their vaccine.”
UNICEF has procured more than 36 million doses of polio vaccine for the first two rounds of immunisations of children in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia.
UNICEF is also helping to prepare the following response:
In Malawi, UNICEF is installing 270 new vaccine refrigerators, repairing vaccine refrigerators and distributing 800 remote temperature monitoring devices, vaccine carriers and cold boxes.
In partnership with the WHO, UNICEF has trained 13,500 health workers and volunteers, 34 district health promotion officers and 50 faith leaders.
In Mozambique, UNICEF has procured 2,500 vaccine carriers and has delivered 100 cold boxes and is assisting with the swift delivery of vaccines from national to provincial stores.
UNICEF is also supporting the training of 33,000 supervisors and frontline workers on vaccine management and social and behavioural change, as well as training of journalists, distribution of communication materials and broadcasting radio and TV spots to support the polio campaign.
In Tanzania, UNICEF has trained 2,147 health workers, 5,128 social mobilizers and 538 town criers, and facilitated the procurement of 3,000 vaccine carriers and 360 cold boxes, expected to be delivered in April 2022.
In Zambia, more than 200 trainers are coaching healthcare workers at the provincial and district level, with support from UNICEF and partners. District officials have been trained on polio surveillance, in partnership with the World Health Organization.
Vaccine supply achievements in 2021
Published on Mon Feb 14 2022
2021 was a challenging year for UNICEF.
As we worked tirelessly to protect children from preventable diseases, we also achieved a number of supply milestones to be proud of.A technical specialist stores Ebola vaccines in ultra-cold freezers in Switzerland.
1. The world’s first Ebola vaccine stockpile
The Ebola virus is devastating for the communities and countries it affects, with children witnessing the suffering and loss of loved ones.
In January 2021, UNICEF and partners announced ground-breaking news in the fight against the disease through the creation of the world’s first Ebola vaccine stockpile. The vaccines are readily available to be shipped from a warehouse in Switzerland within 48 hours of allocation, which improves countries’ prospects to contain future Ebola epidemics by ensuring quick access for populations at risk during outbreaks.
The first doses from this new stockpile were successfully used to help contain an Ebola outbreak in DRC in November 2021.
As the Ebola vaccine requires storage at -80 degrees Celsius, UNICEF, with the support of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, has also been procuring and delivering vaccine freezers to Ebola-prone countries to help in the rollout.
A health care worker in Malawi carries out COVID-19 tests using rapid diagnostic kits delivered by UNICEF.
2. Improving access to COVID-19 tests
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, laboratories around the world have been using molecular PCR tests to detect the virus that causes COVID-19. While these provide an almost definitive result, they require laboratory infrastructure and can take several days to complete. However, the arrival of WHO-approved rapid diagnostic tests, which are accurate, affordable and return results quickly, brought further opportunities to curb the spread of COVID-19.
In April 2021, UNICEF introduced a new and record low-cost rapid antigen test for COVID-19 diagnosis for countries to purchase through the UNICEF Supply Catalogue.
With many countries procuring tests in the millions, this allows significant savings that will be essential as they respond to the pandemic.
In total in 2021, UNICEF delivered more than 12 million COVID-19 diagnostics tests to 62 countries.
In Malawi, UNICEF supported the installation of an oxygen plant at Kamuzu Central Hospital to respond to COVID-19 and support future health needs.
3. Helping patients to breathe easier
Oxygen is a life-saving medical gas for patients with severe COVID-19, as well as children with pneumonia and sick newborns. But with the current pandemic, the existing gap in oxygen supply has turned into a crisis.
In response, UNICEF worked with industry to rapidly develop an innovative emergency solution: the Oxygen Plant-in-a-Box package.
The package includes everything needed to produce large volumes of medical grade oxygen, while UNICEF also provides accessories, installation of equipment, pre-planned maintenance services and staff training. By standardizing the procurement of complex oxygen generation equipment and accessories, UNICEF can help ensure plants are operational within days of arriving in countries.
The very first Oxygen Plant-in-a-Box was installed in Soroti, Uganda in December 2021, with over 16 countries now in the process of procuring plant packages.
A health worker in Uganda administers a COVID-19 vaccine wearing PPE delivered by UNICEF.
4. Delivering personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers
The demand for quality-assured PPE has remained high throughout the pandemic and UNICEF continues to play an important role in its procurement and delivery.
Since the pandemic began, UNICEF has shipped more than 895 million items of PPE to 141 countries from our global supply hubs in Copenhagen, Dubai, Guangzhou, and Panama City.
But that’s not all. UNICEF has designed four PPE kits with different supply item combinations to make it safer for health and frontline workers to go about their jobs, protecting themselves and the communities they serve.
UNICEF Supply Division delivers bed nets and other supplies to reach children at risk of contracting malaria. Soon, UNICEF plans to begin delivering malaria vaccines.
5. Malaria vaccine tender
Malaria is a preventable and treatable disease. Despite this, it takes the life of a child every two minutes.
In October 2021, a major development in global efforts to tackle its spread took place: the advisory bodies to the World Health Organization (WHO) gave a recommendation for general use of the first malaria vaccine for children in sub-Saharan Africa and in other regions with moderate to high malaria transmission.
On the heels of this announcement, UNICEF, in December 2021, launched its first malaria vaccine tender, inviting malaria vaccine manufacturers and developers to submit proposals for supply.
This is another historic step towards the rollout of vaccines that could save tens of thousands of children’s lives each year.
In 2021, humanitarian supply chains remained operational for children and families in countries such as Yemen and other emergency settings.
6. Overcoming transportation turmoil
In 2021, disruptions to international supply chains presented a massive logistical challenge for UNICEF. To ensure essential supplies could reach vulnerable communities without delay, UNICEF intensified its collaboration with the international freight and logistics sector to close gaps in the global vaccine and humanitarian supply chains.
UNICEF came together with sea carriers, international airlines and logistics service providers to efficiently deliver everything from COVID-19 vaccines, syringes, oxygen concentrators and educational supplies around the world, including to emergency settings such as Syria and Yemen.
COVID-19 pandemic leads to major backsliding on childhood vaccinations
Published on Wed Jul 28 2021
Children are missing out on vaccines at a rate not seen in 10 years. And Covid-19 is to blame.
23 million children missed out on basic childhood vaccines through routine health services in 2020, the highest number since 2009 and 3.7 million more than in 2019.
This is according to official data published by WHO and UNICEF on 14th July. The figures reflect global service disruptions due to COVID-19, and show that the majority of countries experienced drops in childhood vaccination rates last year.
“Even as countries clamour to get their hands on COVID-19 vaccines, we have gone backwards on other vaccinations, leaving children at risk from devastating but preventable diseases like measles, polio or meningitis,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
“Multiple disease outbreaks would be catastrophic for communities and health systems already battling COVID-19, making it more urgent than ever to invest in childhood vaccination and ensure every child is reached.”
As access to health services and immunization outreach were curtailed in 2020, the number of children not receiving even their very first vaccinations increased in all regions.
As compared with 2019, 3.5 million more children missed their first dose of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine (DTP-1) while 3 million more children missed their first measles dose.
“This evidence should be a clear warning – the COVID-19 pandemic and related disruptions cost us valuable ground we cannot afford to lose – and the consequences will be paid in the lives and wellbeing of the most vulnerable,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director.
“Even before the pandemic, there were worrying signs that we were beginning to lose ground in the fight to immunize children against preventable child illness, including with the widespread measles outbreaks two years ago. The pandemic has made a bad situation worse. With the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines at the forefront of everyone’s minds, we must remember that vaccine distribution has always been inequitable, but it does not have to be.”
As countries around the world work to recover lost ground due to COVID-19 related disruptions, UNICEF, WHO and partners like Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance are supporting efforts to strengthen immunization systems by:
Restoring services and vaccination campaigns so countries can safely deliver routine immunization programmes during the COVID-19 pandemic;
Helping health workers and community leaders communicate actively with caregivers to explain the importance of vaccinations;
Rectifying gaps in immunization coverage, including identifying communities and people who have been missed during the pandemic.
Ensuring that COVID-19 vaccine delivery is independently planned for and financed and that it occurs alongside, and not at the cost of childhood vaccination services.
Implementing country plans to prevent and respond to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, and strengthen immunization systems as part of COVID-19 recovery efforts
UNICEF is working with countries and partners to help deliver the ambitious targets of the global Immunization Agenda 2030, which aims to achieve 90% coverage for essential childhood vaccines; halve the number of entirely unvaccinated, or ‘zero dose’ children, and increase the uptake of newer lifesaving vaccines such as rotavirus or pneumococcus in low and middle-income countries.
UNICEF will not stop until every child is vaccinated.
Proud Vaccinator Youssouf Diarra has been protecting children in Mali for more than two decades.
Published on Thu May 27 2021
In rural Mali, UNICEF Community Vaccinator, Youssouf Diarra, whizzes round on his motorbike visiting families and vaccinating their children. He’s been protecting his community from diseases like measles for over 20 years.
"l found my first year on the job very difficult because the villagers were afraid of side effects and didn't trust vaccines.” Says Youssouf.
“Today, twenty years later, I can tell you that not only have things changed, but it is the parents themselves who come to me to asking for the vaccination schedule, just to make sure that their children do not miss their vaccination."
On his rounds, he stops by to see the family of 4-year old Aminata Fota.
Despite being vaccinated before she turned 1, little Aminata still contracted measles. She lost her appetite, her temperature started to rise and she develop spots on her face. Youssouf recognised the signs immediately and sent Aminata to the Community Health Centre to get treatment.
Luckily for Aminata, she recovered quickly after getting ill, and was ready for her second dose of measles vaccine.
“The second dose of VAR which was added to routine EPI (expanded Programme Immunisation) is really necessary. It gives the child a second chance to be protected against measles” says Youssouf.
"If these vaccines didn't exist, we would have had to invent them. They protect our children from disease, what’s more, they are free. Our parents were not so lucky, so let's take advantage and vaccinate our children" Says Oumar, Aminata's father.
The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the distribution of vaccines against deadly and highly contagious diseases such as measles and polio. Nonetheless, Mali UNICEF is supporting the Government which is also working hard to ensure that essential services such as immunization continue to be available.
In Mali, the immunization coverage rates increased from 39% in 2013 to 87% in 2020 among children aged 12 to 23 months.
This was as a result of new and innovative approaches such as:
• The creation of digital registers for vaccinated children, • The use of ambulant immunization teams to get to populations living in hard-to-reach areas, • The use of solar fridges to keep vaccines at an optimal temperature, • The setting up of vaccination sessions in places with large gatherings of people (markets, schools, mosques, and main bus stations) as well as, • The use of mobile phones to remind parents of their children's vaccination schedules.
"It is an honour for me to vaccinate the children of my community. I feel more pride when I see how far we have come over these last decades, getting vaccines accepted in our communities." says Youssouf.
Donate now to keep children, like Aminata, safe against measles and other deadly childhood diseases. __You can help protect children and save lives today. __
Measles explained: why this disease is so deadly for children
Published on Tue Jun 01 2021
What is measles?
Measles is a highly contagious viral infection of the nose, throat and lungs that spreads when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes. It is a leading cause of vaccine-preventable deaths amongst children.
What are the symptoms of measles?
Measles symptoms usually appear 10–12 days after infection. The virus causes fever and a distinctive rash that starts on the face and spreads over the whole body. Severe cases can lead to blindness, encephalitis (brain swelling) and death.
Unvaccinated young children are at highest risk of getting measles and suffering complications, including death.
How contagious is measles?
Measles is more contagious than Ebola, and lingers in the air and on surfaces for long periods of time. You can catch measles simply by being in the same room as someone infected with measles - even two hours after the person left.
How is measles treated?
There are no specific treatments for measles, only measures to help alleviate the symptoms. Getting the measles vaccine is the best way to protect against the virus.
How is measles prevented?
Immunisation is the only effective method of prevention for measles. Yet diseases like measles are so contagious that around 95% of the population need to be fully vaccinated (two doses) against it to prevent sustained outbreaks. This is why it is so important that everyone who can be vaccinated is immunised urgently.
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