10 Facts About Vaccinations You Need To Know

We want to see a world where no child dies from a vaccine-preventable illness.
Published on
February 16, 2018

A quick and simple vaccination can save a child from a whole lot of terrible diseases, but did you know that the benefits of immunisation go far beyond just them? When most of a community is vaccinated, it protects our most vulnerable – like the elderly, the sick, and tiny babies who are too young to get vaccinations.

We want a world where no child dies from a vaccine-preventable illness. That’s why we work around the clock to immunise millions of children every year.

Check out these 10 facts about vaccinations below. 

1. Almost a third of deaths in children under 5 could be prevented by vaccinations. 

Around 1.5 million unvaccinated children die every year from vaccine preventable disease - that’s one child every 20 seconds.

2. But nearly 20% of babies don’t get a complete set of basic vaccines. 

These babies don’t have crucial protection against infectious diseases that can cause serious disabilities or even death.  

Teenage girls waiting to be immunised near a school in Rongrong Island, Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands. All vaccinations here are provided by UNICEF.

3. Vaccines work! Since 2000, measles deaths have dropped by 78%.

But measles still kills about 330 children every day, even though a safe and effective vaccine has existed for more than 50 years. Vaccinating against measles, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough) saves around 2.5 million lives every year.

4. In 2016, UNICEF spent about US$1.64 billion obtaining vaccines – enough to provide three billion doses for children in over 100 countries.

We’re the world’s biggest buyer of vaccines. Thanks to our amazing donors we’re able to supply vaccines for 45% of the world’s children.

November 2017 - a shipment of vaccines is delivered to the Sana’a International airport, Yemen, bringing in 15 tonnes of vaccine supplies to protect Yemeni children from diseases such as diphtheria and tetanus.

5. We can save lives very cheaply! In fact, UNICEF can buy a measles vaccine for as little as 10 cents.

And in 2014, UNICEF negotiated the lowest ever price for a polio vaccine - we can buy this life-saving shot for just $1 USD per dose, meaning we’re making the most out of every donation.

6. If existing vaccines were available to every child in the world’s poorest countries it would save US$6.2b in treatment costs and US$145b in lost productivity - IN JUST ONE DECADE!

The price of a single vaccine is far less than the cost of treating a sick child. In fact, a household in Ethiopia can lose up to one month’s income if a child gets sick from measles.

A little girl gets an oral dose of polio vaccine at a clinic in Korhogo, Ivory Coast.

7. In 1995, polio used to cripple more than 50,000 children in India each year.

Polio can cause paralysis, meningitis, and even death. Now, more than 170 million children are vaccinated against polio every year. And in 2014, thanks to the dedication of millions of vaccination volunteers, the entire country was declared polio-free.

8. The world is *this* close to completely eradicating polio because of vaccines.

Since 1988, polio has been totally eliminated from 122 countries, and is now commonly found in just three: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria. Last year, we vaccinated around 5 million children against polio - we’re working towards a world that’s completely polio-free!

9. Vaccines must be kept at exactly the right temperature or they lose their effectiveness.

Transporting vaccines is complicated! UNICEF transports vaccines as refrigerated cargo, then delivers them in special chilled boxes by train, car, boat, foot, bike and even donkey! Wherever children are, we can reach them..

Vaccination teams head out to Ifira, an island just off the main island of Efate in Vanuatu, to immunize children between ages of 6 to 59 months.

10. Vaccinations save the lives of up to three million children every year.

That’s why we work tirelessly to reach children around the world with the immunisations they desperately need.

Tamba Ansumana tickles his 5-month-old son, Samuel, who is being held by Community Health Worker Nancy Tucker, at her home in Bambaya Village, Sierra Leone. Nancy works with families in her community to ensure babies are vaccinated and receive the best antenatal care.

Our family of Global Parents are there for children, whenever they need us, wherever they are. From delivering life-saving vaccines to millions of children, to building safe drinking water wells, providing nutritious food to malnourished babies, and creating safe spaces to play and learn for children in conflict zones, they’re always there with us.

You can join our community of committed Global Parents and make a huge difference for children around the world. Click here to learn more.