Vaccines Work

Vaccines are one of the simplest, most cost-effective and successful ways to save children’s lives. For over two centuries, vaccines have safely reduced the threat of diseases like polio, measles and smallpox, helping children grow up healthy and happy. Vaccines save more than five lives every minute – preventing up to three million deaths a year.

However, some 23 million children miss out on life-saving vaccines every year. The most marginalized children – often most in need of vaccines – continue to be the least likely to get them. Many of them live in remote areas or countries affected by conflict.

For the first time in over a decade, immunization rates are slipping backwards due to COVID-19.

How is UNICEF Helping?

With its partners, UNICEF supplies vaccines to reach 45% of the world’s children under five. In over 100 countries, we work with governments, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and other United Nations (UN) agencies to engage communities, procure and distribute vaccines, keep supplies safe and effective, and help ensure affordable access for even the hardest-to-reach families.

  1. REACHING THE MOST IN NEED: No matter how challenging or remote the setting, we find new ways to reach children, young people and mothers most at risk of life-threatening diseases and outbreaks.
  2. COLD CHAIN: UNICEF and partners harness solar power, mobile technology and telemetrics to ensure vaccines reach all children without losing their effectiveness from exposure to extreme heat or cold weather conditions.
  3. VACCINE SUPPLY: As one of the world’s largest buyers of life-saving supplies like vaccines, UNICEF has unique leverage to negotiate the lowest prices. Buying big and being transparent enables us to shape markets, cut costs and increase efficiency – saving more lives. With UNICEF's efforts, the price of many essential childhood vaccines has reached an all-time low. 

Thanks to our donors, UNICEF is able to reach and immunize children worldwide.

Birma Devi Kunwar takes COVID-19 vaccines to Nepal through the COVAX Facility.
Birma Devi Kunwar takes COVID-19 vaccines to Nepal through the COVAX Facility.

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UNICEF is leading global efforts in the world’s largest and fastest ever procurement and delivery of vaccines as part of the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (COVAX). We are working to secure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines by collaborating with governments, manufacturers, and partners to ensure that low and middle-income countries have the capacity to turn vaccines into vaccinations.


  1. Vaccines are safe. All vaccines go through rigorous safety testing, including clinical trials, before they are approved for the public. Countries will only register and distribute vaccines that meet rigorous quality and safety standards.
  2. Vaccines are effective. They provide better immunity. Children are far more likely to be hurt by a vaccine-preventable disease than by a vaccine.
  3. Vaccines are preventative. If the number of children that are unvaccinated increases, the more likely it is for highly contagious diseases such as measles, diphtheria and polio, which were once wiped out in many countries, to come back.


World Immunization Week – celebrated every year in the last week of April – aims to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease.

Did you know?

UNICEF was the first to introduce “Days of Tranquility” and “Zones of Peace” to the world: temporary ceasefires to provide life-saving care. The first Days of Tranquility occurred in El Salvador in 1985, when fighting stopped for three days to allow 250,000 children to be vaccinated. UNICEF will always work to ensure that children caught in crises are not forgotten.