In a report on global immunization coverage, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) found that more than 20 million children around the world missed out on vaccinations last year. In order to eradicate a deadly disease, the majority of children need to be vaccinated. It’s not only a matter of saving your own child’s life, but the lives of many other children who can’t get vaccinated yet.
Thanks to vaccines, we have been able to significantly decrease child mortality rates. The protection against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), measles, and mumps has given many children a fighting chance in this world. Prior to the advent of modern medicine, many children died from these diseases. If we are to continue to win against these illnesses, vaccinations need to be more widely accessible.
The report looks at vaccination data collected from 2010 onwards. It was revealed that the vaccination levels for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and measles are stagnating. The global coverage is at around 86%, but that percentage is still too low to ensure herd immunity; vaccination coverage needs to be at around 95%. It was also found that vaccines are more difficult to get in poorer countries and areas of conflict. Half of the world’s unvaccinated children reside in 16 countries: Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Iraq, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
Not everyone has easy access to these vaccines, but those who do should get their children vaccinated if they are able to. It may seem like a personal parenting decision, but it’s important to note that the vaccinations protect everyone in the community, especially those who cannot get vaccinated due to health conditions. Even if your child doesn’t get sick, they could be carriers of the disease and infect others.
UNICEF identifies measles cases as indicators of how much more work there is to be done in immunizing children. Last year, the number of cases around the world doubled, and this affected wealthy and poor countries alike. International agencies will continue to strive to provide vaccines to those who don’t have access to it, and we should continue to protect our children by getting the vaccinations on time.