Immunization is one of the most successful and cost-effective public health interventions available, preventing up to three million deaths per year around the world. However, over three million people continue to die from vaccine-preventable diseases every year, many of them children. In fact, 1.5 million children die from vaccine-preventable diseases annually, more than 22 million children around the world are unimmunized against common diseases, and approximately 29 percent of global deaths of children under 5 are vaccine-preventable. A majority of these deaths occur in low-income countries where poverty, weak health and immunization delivery systems, and a lack of vaccine affordability limit universal access to lifesaving vaccines.
Planned and ongoing expansion of immunization programs in low- and lower-middle income countries has the potential to significantly increase the number of lives saved by vaccines. The recent addition of new vaccines—including pneumococcal, rotavirus, and HPV vaccines—to immunization programs in developing countries will avert millions of deaths in those countries. However, the planned introductions of these newer and relatively more expensive vaccines will also increase costs to fully immunize a child and place additional burdens on in-country vaccine cold chain and logistics systems. Barriers to achieving high immunization coverage rates for both traditional and newly introduced vaccines in developing countries include: the high cost of vaccines, insufficient supply of vaccines and other immunization commodities (e.g. syringes), and challenges in delivery of vaccines to target populations including weak immunization supply chains. Lack of technologies targeted for immunization supply chains in developing countries is also a major issue, and manufacturers need better feedback from countries on country-specific needs.