A young girl receives a vaccination from a health worker

Keeping children safe
with life-saving vaccines

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Today, thousands of children will die from diseases that are easy to prevent

Deadly diseases like measles, polio, tetanus, tuberculosis, diphtheria and whooping cough are all easily and cheaply preventable by vaccination. Yet every day, 16,000 children under five die, usually because they don’t get the health care and life-saving vaccines they need.

UNICEF provides vaccines to immunise almost half of the world’s children against preventable diseases, and with our partners support immunisation programmes in over 95 countries to keep children safe.

Since 1980, UNICEF has helped quadruple immunisation rates for children worldwide, saving up to 3 million children’s lives a year.

Today more children are protected than ever before, but there is still more work to be done.

Life-saving vaccines for Sarata

One mum's journey to vaccinate her child in Sierra Leone

In Cote d'Ivoire, baby Sarata receives a vaccination at the village health clinic. Photo: Unicef/2017/Dejongh

In Côte d'Ivoire, Sarata gets her vaccinations at a UNICEF-supported clinic in her village.
Photo: UNICEF/2017/Dejongh

In Cote d'Ivoire, baby Sarata receives her polio vaccinen at the village health clinic. Photo: Unicef/2017/Dejongh

She receives her polio vaccine from a community health worker.
Photo: UNICEF/2017/Dejongh

In Cote d'Ivoire, baby Sarata's birtr is registered and she receives a health check and vaccinations at the village health clinic. Photo: Unicef/2017/Dejongh

She's now safe from some of the deadliest childhood diseases.
Photo: UNICEF/2017/Dejongh

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Icon, graphic: medicine bottle, vaccines, immunisation, healthcare

UNICEF provided 2.5 billion vaccines in 2016, helping protect almost half of the world's children under 5.

In an emergency, we don’t forget vaccines

In the midst of a crisis – whether it’s the ongoing brutality of war or the immediate chaos of natural disaster – we deliver vaccination campaigns to help protect vulnerable children when health services are down. Last year, in humanitarian emergencies alone, your donations helped vaccinate 20 million children against measles.

Before the crisis in Syria, 90% of children got routine vaccines. But since the conflict started more than six years ago that number has fallen dramatically, to around 60%. UNICEF has helped to vaccinated more than 3 million children across the region.

On 26 April 2016, Louai, 4, is vaccinated in Aleppo City as part of Syria's first ever nationwide routine immunization campaign since the start of the five year conflict. Until recently, the siblings lived in Al-Bab town in rural eastern Aleppo, one of the most dangerous areas to live due to the war. Their mother recently fled with her children to shelter with relatives in Aleppo city. Hearing about the campaign from neighbours, she took her four children to the nearest health centre, along with their cousin. The first full nationwide immunization campaign since the start of the five-year conflict in Syria, began on 24 April 2016, at the start of World Immunization Week. The campaign, supported by UNICEF and WHO, aims to reach all children under the age of five years old including those living under siege and in hard-to-reach areas, where routine vaccination is almost non-existent and many children have never received any vaccinations. Access to children in these areas is key to the success of the campaign. After five years of conflict, national immunization rates have dropped from 90 per cent to 57 per cent, putting the country's 2.8 million under-five-year-old at risk of life-threatening vaccine preventable diseases. In this campaign, children will be immunized against polio, measles, rubella, pertussis (whooping cough), diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis B and haemophilus influenza type B. Access for health workers is critical to protect these children from deadly diseases. Vaccination is being provided through fixed health centres, outreach activities and mobile teams where required.

Louai, 4, is vaccinated in Syria as part of a nationwide vaccination campaign to protect children.
Photo: UNICEF/Al-Issa

And we protect children from malaria

Malaria is one of the greatest dangers for children in sub-Saharan Africa, killing one child every minute. Malaria is spread via mosquitos, so children in malaria countries are in most danger when they’re asleep. Malaria symptoms include fever, headache and vomiting. If not treated, malaria can be deadly.

There’s currently no malaria vaccine, but UNICEF is one of the world’s largest distributors of mosquito nets to protect children from mosquito bites.

In 2015 UNICEF delivered 22.3 million mosquito nets to help keep millions of children and their families safe.

On 8 May 2015, Sophiya Gurung, 3, looks out of a mosquito net that was included in the UNICEF-provided hygiene kit in Baluwa village in Gorkha district.

In Nepal, three-year-old Sophiya looks out from under a UNICEF-provided mosquito net.
Photo: UNICEF/Nepal/Pandey

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