UNICEF: 20 percent of children not receiving immunizations

The lives of 1.5 million children could have been saved in 2011 if they had received immunizations, according a report on Friday by UNICEF.

UNICEF expressed its concern at the start of World Immunization Week that global attempts to vaccinate every child are plateauing as a result of funding shortfalls and stagnant political will. One in five children is not being vaccinated because of a lack of resources, weak health systems, social exclusion, geographical exclusion or regional conflicts.

In 2011, 22.4 million children did not receive vaccinations, an increase of more than one million from 2010. UNICEF said that disparities must be addresses and investments should be made in routine immunization to improve healthcare systems for children worldwide. To achieve this end, governments must provide sufficient funding, encourage innovation and provide unwavering political support.

In 2012, UNICEF procured close to 1.9 billion doses of vaccines and more than 500 million syringes to support immunization programs in more than 100 countries. Children become more vulnerable to illness during humanitarian situations, such as the conflicts in Syria and West Africa.

As part of World Immunization Week, UNICEF is raising awareness about the urgency of reaching every child worldwide through vaccination campaigns for Malian refugees displaced by conflict, new vaccine introductions in Haiti, Angola, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and Uganda and open field days in The Gambia to engage communities on immunization with quiz competitions.