UN: 20 million children worldwide missed out on life-saving vaccines last year

UN: 20 million children worldwide missed out on life-saving vaccines last year
© Getty Images

Roughly 20 million children worldwide missed out on a vaccine aimed at eliminating life-threatening diseases such as measles, diphtheria and tetanus last year alone, United Nations agencies announced Monday.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) released a report Monday on global immunization coverage that found rates are stagnating, particularly in poorer countries or areas suffering from conflict, according to NBC News.


More than one in 10 children, totaling 20 million globally, didn’t get the critical vaccines, according to the report.

"Vaccines are one of our most important tools for preventing outbreaks and keeping the world safe," the WHO's director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told NBC News in a statement.

He specifically noted that “the poorest, the most marginalized, those touched by conflict or forced from their homes” are the ones who most often do not receive vaccines.

The findings come amid an outbreak of reported measles cases across the U.S. largely due to an increase in unvaccinated children in schools.

In 2018, the number of reported measles cases globally doubled to nearly 350,000.

"Measles is a real-time indicator of where we have more work to do to fight preventable diseases,"Henrietta Fore, UNICEF's executive director, told NBC News. "An outbreak points to communities that are missing out on vaccines ... (and) we have to exhaust every effort to immunize every child."

While the United States is struggling with an unprecedented amount of measles cases, nearly half of all cases come from just 16 countries, America not being one of them.