July 19, 2017
1 min read

One in 10 infants remain unvaccinated globally

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In 2016, 12.9 million infants — approximately one in ten worldwide — had received no vaccines, including the first dose of the diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis vaccine, according to a joint release issued by WHO and UNICEF.

“Most of the children that remain un-immunized are the same ones missed by health systems,” Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele, MD, MPH, director of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals at WHO, said in the release. “These children most likely have also not received any of the other basic health services. If we are to raise the bar on global immunization coverage, health services must reach the unreached. Every contact with the health system must be seen as an opportunity to immunize.”

In addition to those who did not receive their first dose of the DTaP vaccine, 6.6 million infants who received the first dose did not receive the following doses required to finish the series. This is of major importance as the percentage of children who receive all vaccines needed has stalled at 86% since 2010, falling under the target of 90% coverage.

WHO and UNICEF estimate that to reach the target goal of 90% national vaccination coverage, 10 million additional infants require vaccination in 64 countries. The organizations report that 7.3 million of these infants reside in fragile or humanitarian environments, and 4 million live within three countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

Eight countries also reported having less than 50% coverage regarding completed series of DTaP, including Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic and Ukraine.

While recently recommended vaccines, including rotavirus, have not yet reached 50% coverage, the amount of countries implementing rubella vaccines has improved. The 152 countries now using the vaccines increased global coverage from 35% in 2010 to 47% in 2016.

Immunization is one of the most pro-equity interventions around,” Robin Nandy, MD, MPH, chief of immunizations at UNICEF, said in the release. “Bringing life-saving vaccines to the poorest communities, women and children must be considered a top priority in all contexts.” — by Katherine Bortz


World Health Organization. State of inequality: Childhood immunization. http://www.who.int/gho/health_equity/report_2016_immunization/en/. Accessed July 18, 2017.

Disclosure: Infectious Diseases in Children was unable to determine relevant financial disclosures at the time of publication.