Every year, one in five kids worldwide isn’t fully vaccinated. That’s more than 22 million young lives at risk in one year alone. Our doctors in the field see the consequences every day: children sick and dying of preventable diseases. MSF’s medical teams want us to help them change this picture. But we can’t do it without you.
Too hot? Too cold? Either one is too much for most vaccines. They’re powerful but sensitive: push them below 2°C/46°F or above 8°C/35°F and they’ll lose their ability to protect life. And in the developing world, where climates are often hot and electricity unstable, popping them in the fridge isn’t an option. Coolers and ice packs work in a pinch, but they’re bulky and heavy - difficult to transport. That’s why we’re asking drug companies to develop robust vaccines that won’t spoil before they reach the kids who need them.
Babies are supposed to get all WHO-recommended vaccinations during five different visits to a health centre in their first year. Many do not. For mothers in developing countries, each trip can mean days of walking to reach a clinic. But they can’t be sure that when they arrive the clinic will be open, or that the right vaccines will be in stock. So kids miss some of the doses they need to be fully protected. WHO recommends that even kids over one year old get vaccinated to complete their immunization schedule. But many governments don’t vaccinate their youngest citizens beyond age one - and donors, such as the GAVI Alliance, don’t fund the needed routine vaccines for older age groups. We want them to come up to the international standard. That means giving kids the doses they’ve missed - even after their first birthday.
Wars and natural disasters create waves of refugees. They’re especially vulnerable to diseases that can be prevented by vaccination. In these situations, we have to act fast to save lives. The newest vaccines with the most power to keep children healthy are also the most expensive. But pharmaceutical companies won’t extend the lowest global prices to humanitarian organizations such as MSF. We’re pushing these companies to guarantee us the lowest global price in emergencies – before it’s needed. Big Pharma shouldn’t profit from a crisis.
Photos by Yann Libessart / MSF
Vaccinating a child comes with a price tag close to US$40 - and that’s the lowest global price. Many countries and medical care providers, including MSF, are paying a lot more for their vaccines. What accounts for almost 75% of that total price? Just two new vaccines, which can also save the most lives by protecting children against life-threatening pneumonia and diarrhea. At prices like this, countries can’t afford to protect their children. We’re demanding that pharmaceutical companies transparently share information about their vaccine development and production costs. Plus, we want funders like GAVI to extend their lower negotiated prices and subsidies to countries starting to move out of poverty, so that they can sustain their immunisation programmes. And we’re calling on donors and the pharmaceutical industry alike to work harder for affordable alternatives to expensive vaccines.