Strengthening Routine Immunization Programs Worldwide
Why It's Important
Expanding vaccination coverage is one of the most cost effective ways to advance global welfare. Use of basic vaccines, including polio, measles, and diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DPT) (>90% for DPT3) prevents an estimated 2.5 million deaths per year among children less than 5 years of age and sustains the gains of the polio and measles initiatives.* Overall global coverage with three doses of DPT increased from 74% to 82% during the past decade. Effective routine immunization programs maintain high vaccine coverage, decrease wastage and shortages of vaccines, detect disease outbreaks earlier and lessen the need to rely on resource-intensive special vaccination campaigns.
The use of measles, polio, and DTP vaccines prevents an estimated 2.5 million death among children younger than age 5 each year. During the past decade, global coverage with three doses of DTP before 12 months of age—a performance measure for routine vaccination programs—increased from 74% to 82%.
When strong routine immunization programs are combined with effective disease surveillance programs, the result is less disease and fewer deaths from VPDs. Effective routine immunization programs maintain high vaccination coverage, decrease waste and shortages of vaccines, allow earlier detection of disease outbreaks, and reduce the need to rely on resource-intensive special vaccination campaigns.
Although immunization reaches more children than any other single intervention, 24 million children each year still fail to receive all recommended immunizations, including many who do not finish a series of immunizations after they have started. The reasons for this are as varied and complex as populations themselves. Children are a particular concern in places where immunization programs do not exist or where they are poorly managed, lack adequate resources, exclude certain members of society, or are difficult to access. If vaccination programs do not reach these children, they are also unlikely to receive other needed health services.
*CDC. Ten great public health achievements—Worldwide, 2001–2010. MMWR 2011;60:814–18.