In Summary
  • Immunisation prevents two to three million deaths every year, and could prevent another 1.5 million if vaccination programmes were fully implemented.
  • But vaccination rates have "dangerously" stalled, according to a July report from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Unicef.
  • Worldwide, DPT and measles vaccination rates have stalled since 2010 at about 86 percent.

PARIS,

Vaccines have saved tens of millions of lives but immunisation rates have stagnated in recent years due in part to fake news stories claiming vaccinations can cause measles, autism or sterility.

Here are some key facts about vaccinations:

Immunisation prevents two to three million deaths every year, and could prevent another 1.5 million if vaccination programmes were fully implemented.

But vaccination rates have "dangerously" stalled, according to a July report from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Unicef.

Last year, 19.8 million children under the age of one did not receive the basic triple "DPT" vaccine against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough, or were not protected against measles.

"That means that more than one in 10 are not getting all the vaccinations they need," said Kate O'Brien, head of WHO's vaccine department.

Two-thirds of these unvaccinated children live in ten countries: Angola, Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, The Philippines, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Vietnam.

MEASLES

Worldwide, DPT and measles vaccination rates have stalled since 2010 at about 86 percent.

For measles, the figure has dropped to 69 percent if one takes into account the booster, which is required for a high level of immunity.

While these figures may seem high, they are still "insufficient" and need to climb to 95 percent, the WHO has warned.

Measles outbreaks are occurring worldwide, in countries rich and poor. More than 360,000 cases have been reported since January, the highest figures since 2006, said the WHO.

There were 90,000 cases reported in Europe during the first six months of 2019, more than double the number from the same period last year.

Based on the 2018 data, four European countries recently lost their "measles free" status: Albania, Britain, the Czech Republic and Greece.

Measles is more contagious than tuberculosis or Ebola, yet it is eminently preventable with a vaccine that costs pennies.

SEVERE SYMPTOMS

Often benign, it can nonetheless cause severe symptoms -- fever, rash, coughing -- as well as blindness and, for pregnant women, miscarriages.

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