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Facts for Life

Immunization

Why it is important to share and act on this information

 

Each year, over 1.4 million children die from diseases that are preventable with readily available vaccines.2

These diseases include measles, meningitis caused by Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), yellow fever, polio and hepatitis B. New vaccines against other illnesses, such as pneumonia and diarrhoea caused by rotavirus, have been developed and are now more widely used.

Children who are immunized are protected from these dangerous diseases, which can often lead to disability or death. All children have the right to this protection.

Every girl and boy needs to be fully immunized. Early protection is critical. The immunizations in the child's first year and into the second year are especially important. It is also essential that pregnant women are immunized against tetanus to protect themselves as well as their newborns.

Although there has been progress in the past years in immunizing children, in 2008 nearly 24 million children — almost 20% of children born each year — did not get the routine immunizations scheduled for the first year of life.

Parents or other caregivers need to know why immunization is important, the recommended immunization schedule, and where their children can be immunized.

Parents or other caregivers need to know that it is safe to immunize a child who has a minor illness or a disability or is suffering from malnutrition.

2 As of 2002 (latest data available).