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By UNICEF Australia
16 November 2020

UNICEF is the largest procurer of vaccines worldwide, helping to reach half the world's children with life-saving immunisations. 

Yet almost 14 million infants globally are not receiving any vaccines, putting them and their families at risk of disease and death. As more stress is placed on already overstretched health systems by COVID-19 around the world, essential services like vaccinations are being disrupted.  

As these systems struggle to cope, marginalised children who need these life-saving immunisations the most are missing out. All too often, children in remote or poor communities are underserved or missed by vaccination programs altogether. 

However, health workers around the world are working hard to reach children with crucial vaccines, no matter what.  

A health worker is drawing a vile to prepare a vaccine while a young girl is looking at her in the background.
Health workers at an immunisation centre in Nepal prepare to administer the measles-rubella vaccine to children.
© UNICEF/UNI351552/Prasad Ngakhusi


“For us community health workers, it means walking two to three hours between settlements to conduct these campaigns,” says Deepika, a community nurse in Nepal. “We also go door to door to counsel people on preventive measures. We’ve covered around 200 households this way on foot. It’s not easy, but we have to do it.” 

A health worker is vaccinating a baby. They are both wearing masks.
A baby, six months, receives a vaccine shot at a community health centre in Beijing, China.
© UNICEF/UNI315082/Yuwei 


The COVID-19 outbreak has meant that many children missed vital vaccinations, as a result, this baby didn’t get her routine immunisation when she turned five months old. “We were worried that a vaccine visit may cause infection,” says her mother. Once case numbers began to shrink, provinces in China gradually resumed crucial vaccination services that had been halted due to the outbreak. 

A woman who is wearing a mask looks at the camera. It looks like she is in a hospital.
Hawa works on the frontlines at a UNICEF-supported health centre in Niger.
© UNICEF/UNI334474/Haro


“With the arrival of the first cases of COVID-19 in the area, the mothers were afraid to come to the health centre,” says Hawa, who works on the frontlines of the pandemic at a UNICEF-supported health centre in Niger.  

“We noticed a drop in visits and it was very worrying because we know how much mothers and children need the routine services of the centre.” 

In Niger, UNICEF is training hundreds of health workers and hygienists on COVID-19 infection and prevention control to protect the safety of health personnel and paitients.  

“We cannot turn our backs on other diseases such as polio or measles as their impact may be greater than COVID-19,” says Ramatou, head of the immunisation unit at the health centre.

“With a lot of effort in raising awareness within the communities, mothers are starting to feel more comfortable with visiting the centre again.” 

Vaccinate Children. Save Lives.

Protect children against preventable diseases with lifesaving vaccines by donating today.

Pallets of boxes being unloaded from a plane.
In Nigeria, UNICEF received a delivery of vital health supplies to support the fight against COVID-19.
© UNICEF/UNI322102/


UNICEF reaches nearly half of the world’s children with life-saving vaccines. 

The current pandemic is applying pressure on global vaccine production capacities and is putting immunisation programs at risk due to lockdowns and restrictions. UNICEF is working with governments, vaccine manufacturers and partners to ensure vaccines are available to be shipped to the places that need it most. 

A health worked is providing a droplet vaccine to a boy while two women hold the baby.
A boy receives a vaccine from a health worker during a joint UNICEF-WHO vaccination campaign in a refugee settlement in Jordan.
© UNICEF/UNI347548/UNICEF Jordan


A boy receives a vaccine from a health worker during a joint UNICEF-WHO vaccination campaign in a refugee settlement in Jordan. 

A baby is receiving a droplet vaccine.
Baby Najib receives polio drops at a health centre in Uganda.
© UNICEF/UNI325806/Abdul


“I don’t want my child to get diseases like polio. When children are not immunised, they become sickly, malnourished and are unhealthy,” says Angel as her child, Najib gets polio drops in a health centre in Uganda. To support immunisation efforts in the country, UNICEF procured over 3 million doses of bivalent oral polio vaccine. 

A baby is lying on an table and she is looking at the camera.
Zuka, three months, receives her vaccines at a temporary clinic provided by UNICEF in Aleppo, Syria.
© UNICEF/UNI346889/Chnkdji


UNICEF and partners completed a five-day national immunisation campaign across Syria. The campaign, implemented by the Syrian Ministry of Health, reached more than 900,000 children to check their vaccination status and vaccinated more than 200,000 children to ensure they were caught up with their routine immunisation schedule. Thousands of health workers took part in the campaign to make sure they reached every child, including those in hard-to-reach areas. 

A baby held in the arms of his mother is receiving a vaccine in the arm provided by a health worker.
A child is vaccinated in a health centre in Venezuela, where UNICEF distributed polio, yellow fever, tetanus and BCG vaccines.
© UNICEF/UNI347496/Urdaneta


Since the COVID-19 outbreak, UNICEF has distributed more than 14,000 pieces of personal protective equipment to health care workers in the country and over 37,000 children under one have been vaccinated against measles.

Vaccinate Children. Save Lives.

Protect children against preventable diseases with lifesaving vaccines by donating today.