Vaccines Work. These 8 Charts Prove It.

More kids die of vaccine-preventable diseases every year than the entire population of Philadelphia—but that’s a lot less than just 30 years ago.


In honor of World Immunization Week, which begins this Thursday, UNICEF crunched the numbers on vaccines around the globe:

 

Click to enlarge. Image courtesy of UNICEF.

To me, that last graph is the most remarkable: We’ve more than quadrupled the global average routine immunization rate since 1980. But the hard work isn’t over. By 2020, UNICEF and the World Health Organization hope to increase that rate to 90 percent in every country in the world. In some places, that will be a heavy lift. In 2012, the last year for which UNICEF has data, the nations with the lowest rates of routine immunization in the world were Equatorial Guinea (33 percent), Nigeria (41 percent), and Chad (45 percent). By comparison, many countries in the European Union have rates of 99 percent, and the United States’ is 95 percent.

Jos Vandelaer, UNICEF’s chief of immunizations, notes that even when a country has eradicated a disease, it’s important to keep vaccinating children against it. Polio has been eradicated in every nation except Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria—and yet, in the past year, there have been cases of the disease in the Horn of Africa, Syria, and Iraq. By analyzing those recent cases, scientists determined that they were caused by the same strain of virus present in the three countries where the disease is still endemic. That means that the recent cases were imported—and that herd immunity is not yet strong enough in the Horn of Africa, Syria, or Iraq to prevent outbreaks.

That problem isn’t limited to the developing world; we’re seeing the same phenomenon with measles right here in the United States. “The virus finds the children who are not immune,” says Vandelaer. “And then you see outbreaks.”

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate