Global Immunization

A 2016 study found that for every $1 spent on vaccines in the world’s 94 lowest income countries, US$16 are saved in healthcare costs, lost wages, and lost productivity. When the authors also took into account the value people placed on living healthier lives, increases in life expectancy and the burden of long-term disability, the net return per dollar spent increased to US$44. One of the most prominent groups leading the effort to immunize the world’s children is the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), a unique public-private partnership focused on improving immunization rates in poor countries and accelerating access to new vaccines. Learn more about the efforts of the GAVI Alliance.

Worldwide disease incidence

Even though some diseases may not be making people sick in your neighborhood, they may be common in other parts of the world. Given that people commonly travel for business, to visit family and friends, with relief groups, and for vacation, the viruses or bacteria that cause diseases can easily “hitch a ride.” Check out a table showing the U.S. and worldwide prevalence of many vaccine-preventable diseases.

Controlling the spread of disease

Because no country in the world exists in complete isolation, control of diseases must be collaborative. While communication between countries and regions must be open and disease tracking coordinated, public health approaches and vaccine schedules may vary depending upon disease rates, population susceptibility and public health resources.

Vaccine coverage is variable

Each year about 3 million people around the world die from vaccine-preventable diseases. Most of the deaths are due to a lack of immunization. People may not receive needed vaccines because of availability, personal beliefs, vaccine safety concerns, or circumstances out of their control. Availability and circumstance are particularly important in the developing world. Find out more about why vaccine coverage varies.

Neglected tropical diseases

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of infectious diseases that are considered “neglected” because they have traditionally received relatively little attention from global governments and health organizations.

Reviewed by Paul A. Offit, MD on March 19, 2018

Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Vaccine Education Center staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.

You should not consider the information in this site to be specific, professional medical advice for your personal health or for your family's personal health. You should not use it to replace any relationship with a physician or other qualified healthcare professional. For medical concerns, including decisions about vaccinations, medications and other treatments, you should always consult your physician or, in serious cases, seek immediate assistance from emergency personnel.