10 facts on immunization

Immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases is essential to reaching Millennium Development Goal 4 on reducing under-five mortality by two thirds by 2015.

This is because millions of children die from diseases that can be prevented through vaccines. Progress is being made. For example, in 2009 an estimated 107 million children under the age of one were vaccinated with three doses of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP3) vaccine.

Immunization is also a key strategy to ensure global health and to respond to the threat of emerging infections such as pandemic influenza. WHO’s work in this area includes standard-setting; research and development; vaccine regulation, quality and safety; vaccine supply; immunization financing; and immunization system strengthening. These activities support the goals of the Global Immunization Vision and Strategy 2006-2015, which has been adopted by many countries as an overarching strategic framework for immunization.

10 facts on immunization :

Immunization prevents an estimated 2.5 million deaths every year

Immunization prevents deaths every year in all age groups from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), and measles. It is one of the most successful and cost-effective public health interventions.

More children than ever are being reached with immunization

In 2009, an estimated 107 million children under the age of one were vaccinated with three doses of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP3) vaccine. These children are protected against infectious diseases that can have serious consequences like illness, disability or death.

An estimated 23 million children under the age of one did not receive DTP3 vaccine

Seventy percent of these children live in ten countries, and more than half of them live in India and Nigeria.

Over 1 million infants and young children die every year from pneumococcal disease and rotavirus diarrhoea

A large number of these deaths can be prevented through vaccination.

Public-private partnerships facilitate the development and introduction of vaccines

For example, a new vaccine which prevents the primary cause of epidemic meningitis in sub-Saharan Africa, meningococcal A, was introduced in Burkina Faso in 2010, and could save up to 150 000 young lives by 2015.

The supply of influenza vaccines has been significantly expanded

The expansion has been possible as a result of WHO supporting the efforts of vaccine manufacturers to produce and license influenza vaccines in 11 developing countries.

Global measles mortality has declined by 78%

Global measles mortality has been reduced from an estimated 733 000 deaths in 2000 to 164 000 deaths in 2008, thanks to intensified vaccination campaigns.

Polio incidence has been reduced by 99%

Since 1988, polio incidence has fallen by 99%, from more than 350 000 cases to 1291 cases in 2010. Only four countries remain endemic – Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan – down from more than 125 countries in 1988.

Annual deaths from neonatal tetanus have fallen

Neonatal tetanus deaths have declined to an estimated 59 000, down from 790 000 deaths in 1988.

Immunization provides an opportunity to deliver other life-saving measures

Immunization not only protects children from vaccine-preventable diseases. It also serves as an opportunity to deliver other life-saving measures, such as vitamin A supplements to prevent malnutrition, insecticide-treated nets for protection against malaria and deworming medicine for intestinal worms.

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