How vaccines save lives around the world

Find out what we're doing to help create a world where every child has the chance to survive and thrive.
Published on
March 2, 2018

Every day, vaccinations save lives.

From Cambodia to Côte d’Ivoire, children are being protected from deadly diseases thanks to community vaccination programmes. Almost one third of deaths among children under five are preventable by vaccine, which is why immunisation is such a successful and cost-effective way to keep kids safe.

Have a look at some of UNICEF's work around the world!

Mali

In Mali, a Mama Yeleen is a woman who has been specially trained in early childhood development. Mama Yeleens act as role models for others in their community. They educate other mums about caring for their babies, breastfeeding, good nutrition for young children, and the essential vaccinations children need to keep themselves healthy.  

Tata Oulalé is a Mama Yeleen in Baraoueli, Mali. She’s holding 6-month-old Mohamed before he receives his vaccinations at the local health centre.

Afghanistan 

This newborn girl in Afghanistan will soon receive three types of vaccinations, which will protect her against tuberculosis, black jaundice, and polio. Afghanistan is one of just three countries where polio is still widely found. Polio can cause paralysis, crippling, and even death – which is why we’re determined to see this terrible disease wiped out entirely. Every year UNICEF administers millions of doses of polio vaccines to children around the country.  

Bangladesh

Ouch! This boy is being vaccinated at a UNICEF health centre in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, where just a quick pinch will protect him from diphtheria. It’s a nasty, highly contagious disease that affects the throat and tonsils, obstructs breathing, and sometimes causes death. He and his family are among the 1.2 million Rohingya refugees who have fled violence and persecution in Myanmar. In the crowded camps, disease is a constant threat.

Yemen

Yemen is facing one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world. After years of conflict, drought and disease, the survival of millions of people completely depends on outside assistance. Among the supplies being unloaded from this plane at Sana’a International Airport are 15 tonnes of vaccine supplies. They’ll be used to protect Yemeni children from devastating diseases like diphtheria and tetanus.

Côte d'Ivoire

It’s a big day for little Sarata! At this maternity health clinic in Côte d’Ivoire, her birth has been being officially registered, she was weighed, and received her vaccination against polio. In Côte d'Ivoire, one child in ten dies before they reach the age of five, most often from preventable diseases like malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea. We want every child to survive and thrive, just like Sarata.

Sierra Leone

Baby Samuel is being tickled by his Dad while being held by community health worker Nancy in Bambaya, Sierra Leone. Nancy’s job is to advise pregnant women how to care for newborns. That includes the importance of breastfeeding, good hygiene practices, sleeping under mosquito nets, and receiving essential vaccinations at the right age. “Our son is 5 months old now,” says Samuel’s Dad. “He is very healthy and has never been sick since he was born because we are following the advice Nancy gave us.” 

Cambodia

In Svay Pak Village, a poor community in Cambodia, this young boy has just received his official yellow vaccination card. His village is participating in a free vaccination program supported by UNICEF, where parents learn about the importance of immunisation and receive advice on how to keep their families healthy. We think that’s worth a huge grin too!

Fiji

These teenage girls wait to be immunised on Rongrong Island, Fiji. Vaccinations have to be kept refrigerated to stay effective, but after Cyclone Winston devastated many areas of Fiji, many communities were left without electricity. In 2017 UNICEF stepped in to supply health centres around the country with solar refrigerators to make sure children still have access to life-saving vaccines and medicines, even without electricity. 

Ukraine

Baby Alexander is just about to receive his basic vaccinations in Bohorodchany, Ukraine. In the past, his Mum had never really bothered about vaccines but soon discovered their value. “Three years ago, I woke up to five very sick children. I panicked and went with them to the hospital where they were all admitted for one week,” says his mum, Halyna. The diagnosis was whooping cough. Realising that she could have lost five children, Halyna is now a regular at her GP clinic. 

With just 23% of children protected against whooping cough in 2017, Ukraine has one of the lowest immunisation coverage rates in the world. UNICEF is increasing that coverage to keep children like Alexander safe from measles, hepatitis B, diphtheria, polio and tetanus.

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.