Last year, we showed the percentage of people globally who receive basic vaccines, which are among the best investments in health. That single data point, however, did not tell the whole story. For example, new vaccines are added to national immunization schedules frequently, including the vaccine seen here to protect children from the main cause of pneumonia. In short, immunization systems are consistently delivering more and different vaccines to more people, even though population growth means it takes more work just to maintain coverage levels with existing vaccines.

The global coverage level averages also obscure key gaps. Coverage with the diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccine (DTP3) is considered the gold standard for measuring an immunization system. Though global DTP3 coverage is almost 90 percent, there are a handful of countries where coverage is and has been hovering well below 50 percent. In the five countries shown above, coverage is currently projected to remain below 60 percent through 2030. Dramatic improvements are needed to increase coverage and avoid leaving children behind in these settings.

The heatmap shows that even within countries that may be doing well, certain areas can be neglected. More than half of children haven’t received the necessary three doses of DTP in 26 percent of districts in sub-Saharan Africa. The priority now is replicating successful strategies in the most challenging places so that all people everywhere receive lifesaving vaccines.