As the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of children are at risk of missing out on life-saving immunization for diseases such as measles, polio and pertussis, and hard-fought gains in vaccination coverage may be erased. Immunization has been among the most successful and cost-effective public health interventions to date, preventing an estimated two to three million deaths every year. As a result, deaths from measles — a major child killer — declined by 73 per cent worldwide between 2000 and 2018, averting an estimated 23.2 million deaths. The COVID-19 outbreak threatens already stretched health services worldwide and could result in more deaths and greater suffering for children, especially the most vulnerable or those living in countries affected by humanitarian crises.
UNICEF has generated a new set of regional snapshots highlighting key immunization statistics using the latest available national-level data (WHO, UNICEF 2019). These snapshots present information on historical trends in coverage for each region as well as for countries within regions. The graphs also provide information on missed opportunities — the number of children not reached with essential immunization services in each region and how this number varies by country. Included within each snapshot is detailed information on how the graphs were developed and how they should be interpreted. The data shown reflect pre-COVID-19 immunization levels. We anticipate that the next set of regional snapshots will show concerning declines in these levels unless the global community works together to maintain regular vaccination services during and after the pandemic.