Inequality in access to vaccines

Mailen Agüero – Business Development Analyst
Francisco Stefano – Director

Vaccines are one of the health measures that have produced and continue to produce the greatest benefit to humanity, they prevent diseases that previously caused major epidemics, deaths and sequelae.

Today, more than 26 common infectious diseases can be prevented with vaccines. And more than 130 new vaccines are under development against contagious diseases such as malaria, serious re-emerging infections such as dengue or Ebola, parasitic diseases, etc.

The World Health Organization considers immunization to be one of the most effective and cost-effective health interventions. It has eradicated smallpox, reduced the global incidence of polio by 99% to date, and dramatically reduced disability and mortality from diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, tuberculosis, and measles.

Globally, the distribution of vaccines is determined by political, economic, social, diplomatic, and health-related issues.

If only a few countries can vaccinate their populations, the gap between rich and poor countries will worsen, to the detriment of children.

According to official data published by the WHO and UNICEF:

  • Global coverage fell from 86% in 2019 to 81% in 2021
  • An estimated 25 million children under the age of 1 did not receive basic vaccines, which is the highest number since 2009.
  • The number of girls not vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV) increased by 3.5 million, compared to 2019.
  • In 2021, the number of unvaccinated children increased by 5 million from 2019.

Most of these children live in conflict-affected communities, in remote places where care is poor, or in informal settings or slums, where they experience multiple deprivations, including limited access to basic health and critical social services.

 Vaccine equity means that vaccines should be allocated in all countries based on need and regardless of their economic status.

 Access to vaccines and their assignment must be based on principles based on the right of every human being to enjoy the highest possible level of health without distinction of race, religion, political ideology, economic condition or any other social condition.

Data monitoring at the subnational level is critical to help countries prioritize and adapt vaccination strategies and operational plans to address immunization gaps and reach every person with life-saving vaccines.

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