Millions of children miss measles jab infographic
Graphic shows global measles cases in the first three months of 2019, and the top ten high income countries where children are not vaccinated with the first measles vaccine dose.


Millions of children worldwide not receiving measles vaccine

By Mike Tyler

April 25, 2019 - An estimated 169 million children around the world missed out on the first dose of the measles vaccine between 2010 and 2017, according to UNICEF, amid a global surge in cases of the highly contagious disease.

As a result of greater vulnerability to the disease, more than 110,000 measles cases were reported worldwide during the first three months of 2019, representing a near 300 per cent jump from the same period last year, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) data.

In 2017, some 110,000 people, most of them children, died from measles – a 22 percent increase from the year before, UNICEF said.

The children's organisation explained that although two doses of the measles vaccine are “essential” to protect children from the disease, a lack of access, poor health systems, complacency, and in some cases a fear of vaccines, led to a drop in global coverage for the first dose to only 85 percent in 2017 – a level that has remained similar for the past decade. Global coverage for the second dose is even lower, at 67 percent.

The WHO recommends a threshold of 95 percent immunisation coverage to achieve so-called “herd immunity” – or vaccinating a significant enough portion of the population to provide protection for those who have yet to develop immunity.

Among high-income countries, the United States – currently fighting its biggest measles outbreak in almost 20 years – topped UNICEF’s list of places with the most children missing the first vaccine dose between 2010 and 2017, at more than 2.5 million.

  • Vaccinations create ‘umbrella of immunity’ against global measles outbreaks (UNICEF)
  • New measles surveillance data for 2019 (WHO)
PUBLISHED: 25/04/2019; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: Getty Images
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