The number of measles-related deaths has dropped by 79% since 2000 ─ from 546 800 to 114 900 in 2014. New data estimates that 17.1 million lives have been saved since the beginning of the century, largely due to increased vaccination coverage against this highly contagious viral disease. However, overall progress towards increasing global immunization coverage has recently stagnated.
Five years after the introduction of an affordable conjugate meningitis A vaccine, immunization has led to the control and near elimination of deadly meningitis A disease in the African “meningitis belt.” In 2013, only four laboratory-confirmed cases of meningitis A were reported by the 26 countries in the meningitis belt.
Following the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) meeting held in Geneva from 20-22 October, several key recommendations were made by the advisory group including the use of malaria vaccine and the globally synchronized switch from trivalent oral polio vaccine (tOPV) to bivalent OPV (bOPV).
Globally, 1 in 5 children still do not receive routine life-saving immunizations, and an estimated 1.5 million children die each year of diseases that could be prevented by vaccines that already exist. WHO recommends how to reduce the pain at the time of vaccination across all age groups.