Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals

Progress towards rubella and congenital rubella syndrome control and elimination

A new report published in todays’ edition of the WHO Weekly Epidemiological Record shows that 53 more countries introduced rubella vaccine into their national immunization schedules since 2000. This led to a decline in cases by 97% from 2000-2016. But, improved disease surveillance and stronger country commitment are still needed to reach elimination goals.

WHO recommends that all countries that have not yet introduced rubella vaccine should consider doing so using existing, well-established measles immunization programmes.

Group B Streptococcus infection causes an estimated 150 000 preventable stillbirths and infant deaths every year

An estimated one in five pregnant women around the world carry Group B Streptococcus (GBS) bacteria which is a major, yet preventable, cause of maternal and infant ill health globally. These are the findings of a new research supplement published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

The series of 11 research papers conservatively estimates that out of 410 000 GBS cases every year, there will be at least 147,000 stillbirths and infant deaths globally. Despite being home to only 13% of the world’s population, Africa had the highest burden, with 54% of estimated cases and 65% of stillbirths and infant deaths.

New subnational immunization coverage data now available

A mother carrying her child upon her back reads a vaccination leaflet
UN/Stuart Ransom

For the first time, WHO is publishing immunization coverage data at the subnational level reported by 140 Member States worldwide.

Data for over 20 000 subnational entities were received, which represents about two-thirds of all the surviving infants worldwide. The information is essential for countries to target their efforts to address gaps and increase immunization coverage.

Measles no longer endemic in 79% of the WHO European Region

A young mother and child talk with a visiting WHO officer

The number of countries in the Region that have demonstrated interruption of measles and rubella continues to increase and now stands at 42 for measles and 37 for rubella.

However, Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, warns that immunization coverage is decreasing. One in every 15 children does not receive the first vaccination dose against measles and rubella on time.

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