Vaccines save millions of lives each year and are among the most cost-effective health interventions ever developed. Immunization has led to the eradication of smallpox, a 74 percent reduction in childhood deaths from measles over the past decade, and the near-eradication of polio.
Despite these great strides, there remains an urgent need to reach all children with life-saving vaccines. One in five children worldwide are not fully protected with even the most basic vaccines. As a result, an estimated 1.5 million children die each year—one every 20 seconds—from vaccine-preventable diseases such as diarrhea and pneumonia. Tens of thousands of other children suffer from severe or permanently disabling illnesses.
Vaccines are often expensive for the world’s poorest countries, and supply shortages and a lack of trained health workers are challenges as well. Unreliable transportation systems and storage facilities also make it difficult to preserve high-quality vaccines that require refrigeration.