WHO: More than 22 million children not vaccinated

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

About 15 percent of world's children going without vaccinations, says WHO's Director of Immunization Dr. Okwo-Bele

About 15 percent of world's children going without vaccinations, says WHO's Director of Immunization Dr. Okwo-Bele

GENEVA - More than 22 million of the world's children are not being immunized with basic vaccines, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Dr. Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele, the WHO's Director of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals said on Wednesday that, after 40 years from the establishment of the Extended Program on Immunization, many children remained at risk of serious illness through not being vaccinated.

Speaking at a press conference at the UN's headquarters in Geneva to mark World Immunization Week, Okwo-Bele said on Wednesday: "When we look at the number of children being vaccinated each year, we see that close to 85 percent are being vaccinated."

He pointed out that nearly three million lives were saved by immunization each year.

The last week of April each year is marked by the WHO and its partners as World Immunization Week.

- Deadly diseases

It aims to raise public awareness of how immunization saves lives, encouraging people everywhere to vaccinate themselves and their children against deadly diseases.

The theme of World Immunization Week 2014 is “Are you up-to-date?” and encourages people to find out what vaccines are available, check their vaccination status and get the ones they need. 

In 2015, the coverage of target populations should reach the goal of the Global Immunization Vision and Strategy, 2006 - 2015 of at least 90 percent national vaccination coverage and at least 80 percent vaccination coverage in every district or equivalent administrative unit.

According to the WHO report, immunization currently averts 2-3 million deaths each year from diseases such as diphtheria, measles, pertussis, pneumonia, polio, rotavirus, diarrhea, rubella and tetanus.

In 2012, of an estimated 22.6 million infants worldwide not reached with routine immunization services, more than half live in three countries: India, Indonesia and Nigeria.

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