Measles Remains a Serious Threat: WHO and UNICEF National Immunization Coverage Data Shows


Four million more children received vaccines in 2022 than in 2021, according to the newly released WHO and UNICEF National Estimates of Immunization Coverage (WUENIC). However, progress has not been equal among the different vaccines, countries, and regions. There remains an urgent need to catch up children who are missing doses of life-saving measles vaccines due to significant disruptions in health services driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since 2019, the percentage of children who received their first dose of a measles vaccine declined from 86% to 83%. In 2022, 21.9 million children missed their first dose, while 13 million missed their second dose.

Because of the significant number of children missing their measles vaccine doses in the last two years, the number of large or disruptive measles outbreaks more than doubled from 17 to 37. These outbreaks also signal the need to identify and address weaknesses in immunization services.

Investing in measles and rubella vaccines and other immunizations is one of the most effective ways to safeguard children’s health. Since 2000, the Measles and Rubella Partnership has supported vaccinating millions of children, helping to prevent an estimated 56 million deaths from measles and protecting hundreds of thousands of infants from congenital rubella syndrome.

But as the current data show, more must be done. The Measles and Rubella Partnership will continue to support the assessment of the risk for measles and rubella outbreaks and facilitate the planning and coordination of high-quality campaigns to vaccinate those who are missing doses. In addition, we aim to strengthen surveillance and laboratory capacity, improve routine vaccinations to reach the 95% elimination coverage targets, and provide timely resources and support to respond to outbreaks.

We are unwavering in our commitment to collaborate with our partners to ensure all children have access to and get the vaccines they need regardless of who they are or where they live. We will continue supporting government and health leaders in prioritizing communities impacted by weak health systems so children missing the measles vaccine get the full protection they deserve.

Let’s work together to reach children and communities with life-saving measles and rubella vaccines and create a healthier, more resilient world for everyone.

For more on the 2022 WUENIC data, read: Immunization Agenda Partnership Council’s statement.

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