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An infant is vaccinated in a transit camp for people fleeing the civil war in Libya, at the Ras Jedir border post between Tunisia and Libya.
Marta Ramoneda/UNICEF

More Children Were Vaccinated in 2017 Than Ever Before

Why Global Citizens Should Care
Every year, an estimated 3 million people die from vaccine-preventable diseases like measles, polio, and influenza — many of whom are children under the age of 5. Vaccines are essential in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal on ensuring good health and well-being. You can take action here.

More than 120 million children — a record number — received at least one dose of the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) vaccine in 2017, according to a report released Monday.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF released the report detailing global immunization statistics.

The data showed that 9 out of 10 infants received at least one dose of the DTP vaccine, with an additional 4.6 million infants being vaccinated with the recommended three doses of the DTP vaccine, in comparison to numbers from 2010.

The report detailed some important vaccine wins around the world. The data indicated that 167 countries now include a second dose of measles vaccine as routine vaccination, 162 countries use rubella vaccines, and 80 countries initiated the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

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Global coverage against rubella has increased to 52%, up from just 35% in 2010, according to the new data.

These figures show that more children than ever before are reached by vaccines.

Still, almost 20 million infants did not experience full immunization in 2017, according to the report. This means they were not immunized with three doses of the DTP vaccine.

Nearly 8 million of these infants live in fragile or humanitarian settings. Others lack proper vaccines due to general marginalization and inequality.

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The WHO-UNICEF report calls on all countries to increase funding for immunization programs around the world.

"To reach all children with much-needed vaccines, the world will need to vaccinate an estimated 20 million additional children every year with three doses of the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine (DTP3); 45 million with a second dose of measles vaccine; and 76 million children with 3 doses of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine," the report reads.

Vaccination efforts are vital in the fight to ensure global health.

Every year, an estimated 3 million people die from vaccine-preventable diseases like measles, polio, and influenza — many of whom are children under the age of 5.

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Vaccination efforts have significantly reduced the number of deaths associated with these diseases, but global coverage has stalled at 86%, according to the WHO.

Immunization programs aren’t just essential in ensuring children’s health — they are essential in ensuring global health.

"If vaccination rates fall it is relatively easy for infectious diseases to re-establish themselves, especially the highly contagious ones like measles and diphtheria," Sarah Loving, vaccine knowledge project manager, Oxford Vaccine Group, told the Independent.

The anti-vax movement perpetuates ideas that go against scientific evidence, which scares parents and encourages them not to vaccinate their children. Unvaccinated children become sick and are a perfect starting point for an epidemic.

There have been major advances made when it comes to vaccination programs, but to ensure good health and well-being globally, efforts to reach children everywhere remain essential.