Saving Children's Lives: USAID's Support for Immunization

Speeches Shim

A child gets immunized in Bangladesh
Amy Fowler, USAID

As a proven, effective public health intervention, immunization has been a priority for USAID development assistance for over thirty years. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) works closely with partners around the world, including national governments, Gavi, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and civil society organizations, to build strong routine immunization systems and extend equitable access to lifesaving vaccines to all. USAID’s diverse portfolio of immunization programming contributes to the Agency’s priority to end preventable child and maternal deaths within a generation.


USAID helps countries to strengthen routine immunization systems and to extend equitable access to lifesaving vaccines in a timely, reliable and sustainable manner. Since 2001, USAID has contributed $1.35 billion to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to support the accelerated introduction of new and underutilized vaccines in 73 Gavi-eligible countries. In 2015, USAID pledged an additional $1 billion to Gavi over four years, subject to Congressional approval, to immunize an additional 300 million children and save 5 million lives by 2020.

USAID engages in Gavi governance bodies at the global level and works in-country to support cooperation and collaboration of all Gavi Alliance partners. USAID’s efforts help ensure that donor investments are strategically aligned and supportive of government priorities and programs. USAID is also working to fully explore innovative financing strategies to strengthen country capacity to successfully transition to domestic resources at the end of Gavi support.

Engagement at the Gavi governance level allows for linking Gavi-specific engagement to broader USAID efforts, including primary health care systems strengthening, greater country ownership of health programs and domestic resource mobilization.

USAID technical assistance to immunization system improvements protects and optimizes investments to Gavi by working to strengthen country capacities and build sustainable national immunization systems within – and as a foundational building block of – strong primary health care systems. In order to leverage our global investment in Gavi and support the goals of the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP), USAID supports and participates in the following activities in countries at both national and subnational levels:

  • development of sound immunization policies, strategies and guidelines to ensure that routine immunization programs are well-planned and well-managed
  • introduction of new vaccines into national routine immunization programs
  • implementation of innovative approaches and tools to expand equitable access to immunization at subnational levels
  • improvement of the capacity of immunization providers and managers through training and supportive supervision
  • improvement of immunization supply chain management and information management systems
  • execution of reviews and evaluations of immunization programs at national and subnational levels
  • engagement with ministries of both health and finance to promote sustainable financing for immunization programs


USAID has been a key player in polio eradication activities since the beginning of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) and makes an annual contribution of $59 million towards polio eradication. USAID provides financial and technical assistance in support of polio endgame objectives, targeted to polio endemic countries, outbreak countries and countries at high risk of importation.

USAID’s primary implementing partners are WHO, UNICEF and the CORE Group Polio Project (CGPP), and the majority of USAID support is directed towards surveillance and outbreak response, communication, social mobilization and supplementary immunization activities. Additionally, USAID supports and participates in activities related to legacy planning, poliovirus containment and certification, as well as global and regional polio advisory group meetings, surveillance reviews and outbreak response assessments. USAID’s approach emphasizes engagement with local and international NGOs and communities, with particular focus on hard-to-reach, mobile, cross-border and refugee populations.


USAID additionally supports vaccine research and development. USAID provides financial support for ongoing malaria vaccine research towards the development of three malaria vaccine approaches, targeting the parasite before and during liver stages and during the blood stage. USAID funding for HIV vaccine research and development focuses on candidate products that address the specific challenges faced by the low- and lower-middle-income countries hardest hit by the HIV pandemic.

Last updated: July 12, 2021

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