The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported in October 2022 that UNICEF had delivered 700,000 doses of a tetanus-diphtheria (Td) vaccine to Ukraine. This delivery was provided as humanitarian aid during the continued conflict initiated by Russia. The OCHA indicated that the vaccine was procured with “financial support from the Italian government”.  

Survive and thrive 

For UNICEF, ensuring children “thrive and remain in good health” is essential at all times. Thus, it is committed to enabling children in Ukraine, “irrespective of background or circumstance” to access education. In order to facilitate this education and continuation of childhood, UNICEF considers vaccination an important step in promoting health and happy children.  

Tetanus and diphtheria 

Tetanus can infect anyone through cuts or wounds. It causes problems for the nervous system and can even trigger seizures. The OCHA suggests that mortality can “be as high as 70%”. It is prevented by vaccination. Diphtheria is a contagious bacterial infection, and can be fatal to 1 in 5 patients, particularly children.  

The Ukrainian national immunisation schedule vaccinates children against tetanus and diphtheria at 2, 4, 6, and 18 months, before revaccination at 6 and 16 years. Furthermore, adults are encouraged to get revaccinated every 10 years. These vaccinations are free.  

Humanitarian aid 

In September UNICEF delivered 70,000 doses for children from 6 years of age, also provided as aid. Ukraine is receiving vaccines against polio, diphtheria and tetanus, measles, rubella, mumps, and rabies. These are supplied with the support of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Japanese and Italian governments.  

In August UNICEF began delivering refrigerator vans for vaccine transport. 14 of a total of 30 were given to the Regional Centres for Disease Control and Prevention of the Ukrainian Ministry of Health. 

“UNICEF, together with partners, continues to support Ukraine in responding to the emergency humanitarian situation created by the war, including by providing medicines and medical equipment”.   

For more on supporting and sustaining routine immunisation rates come to the World Vaccine Congress in Washington 2023.