The World Health Organization (WHO) monitors vaccination coverage throughout the various regions of the world. In much the same way that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) measures overall vaccination by evaluating coverage for certain vaccines, so too does the WHO. The primary measure is coverage with three doses of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine; however, vaccination rates against BCG (tuberculosis vaccine), polio and measles vaccines, among others, are also assessed. In November 2015, the WHO published the most recent findings in the Weekly Epidemiological Record (WER), 11/13/15, No. 46, 2015, 90, 617-32.
Summary of key findings
To see the complete report, download the Nov. 13 issue of the WER (linked above).
- Vaccination rates with three doses of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccines were about 86 percent; this number has remained similar since 2009.
- Range of coverage by region was between 77 and 96 percent.
- Of 18.7 million children who did not complete the three-dose series, 11.5 million children did not start the series at all.
- Vaccination rates with a second dose of measles-containing vaccine were about 38 percent by the end of the second year of life and increased to 56 percent if older children were included in the estimate.
- Single dose coverage with a measles-containing vaccine was about 85 percent.
- BCG coverage was determined to be about 91 percent and three doses of polio, about 86 percent.
- Hepatitis B vaccine is now part of the routine vaccination schedule in 95 percent of countries and about half of these recommendations include a birth dose of the vaccine. Global vaccination rates with three doses (even in countries without a routine recommendation) was estimated to be about 82 percent with about 38 percent coverage for the birth dose.
- Rubella vaccine is routine in about 72 percent of countries with an estimated global coverage of about 46 percent.
- Hib vaccine is recommended in 99 percent of countries; global coverage was about 56 percent.
- Rotavirus vaccine is part of the routine schedule in about 38 percent of countries with global coverage of about 19 percent.
- Pneumococcal vaccine (three doses) is routinely recommended in about 60 percent of countries with about 31 percent coverage.
- More than half of the unvaccinated children during the past 19 years have been from the same six countries: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Indonesia, Ethiopia and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Additional topics addressed included vaccine coverage during the second year of life and vaccine supply shortages. In addition, the same edition of the WER contained data related to measles elimination progress between 2000 and 2014. To read more about any of these topics, view the complete report.
Editorial comment: Because travel to and from other parts of the world is common, these data are important for considering how easily a vaccine-preventable disease could be introduced into our own communities. Likewise, keeping track of immunization rates in other parts of the world can help with diagnosing illnesses if any of your patients recently traveled or had international visitors. As we are in the midst of the holiday season, this possibility becomes all the more important to consider.