Vaccines for COVID-19 are critical tools for helping to bring the pandemic under control when combined with effective testing, treatment and existing prevention measures. Vaccinating the world against this disease is the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history – and UNICEF is leading this effort on behalf of the Global COVAX Facility.

More than 3.8 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered to-date. This historic global rollout is unprecedented in terms of speed, scale and demographics reached. Yet despite progress, inequities between lower and higher-income countries are continuing to cost lives and are prolonging the pandemic.

Only 16 per cent of people in low-income countries have received a single vaccine dose – compared to 80 per cent in high-income countries. In certain lower-income countries, many of the most at-risk people in society – healthcare workers, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions – are going unprotected while young, healthy adults receive booster doses in wealthier countries. The world must act urgently to close this equity gap.

Global vaccination continues to decline in 2021 with 25 million children missing out on lifesaving vaccines, 2 million more than in 2020, and 6 million more than in 2019

Global coverage of the third dose of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP3) fell from 86 per cent in 2019 to 81 per cent in 2021 – its lowest level since 2008. The latest WHO/UNICEF estimates of national immunization coverage (WUENIC) also show that 112 countries experienced stagnant or declining DTP3 coverage since 2019 with 62 of those countries declining by at least 5 percentage points. As a result, 25 million children were un or under-vaccinated in 2021 where more than 60 per cent live in just 10 countries (India, Nigeria, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Philippines, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Brazil, Pakistan, Angola, and Myanmar) and 18 million did not receive any vaccines (zero-dose children), an increase of 5 million from 2019.

Many factors contributed to the observed decline, including an increased number of children living in conflict and fragile settings, increased misinformation, and COVID-19 related issues such as service and supply chain disruptions, resource diversion to response efforts, and containment measures that limited immunization service access and availability.


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  • Progress and challenges with sustaining and advancing immunization coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic

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