Pandemic affecting children’s vaccination

Health Watch

TWENTY-THREE million children missed out on basic vaccines through routine immunisation services last year – 3.7 million more than in 2019, according to official data published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) last week.
This latest set of comprehensive worldwide childhood immunisation figures, the first official figures to reflect global service disruptions due to the Covid-19 show a majority of countries, last year, experienced drops in childhood vaccination rates.
Concerningly, most of these – up to 17 million children – likely did not receive a single vaccine during the year, widening immense inequities in vaccine access.
Most of these children live in communities affected by conflict, in under-served remote places, or in informal or slum settings where they face multiple deprivations, including limited access to basic health and key social services.
“Even as countries clamour to get their hands on the Covid-19 vaccines, we have gone backwards on other vaccinations, leaving children at risk from devastating but preventable diseases such as measles, polio or meningitis,” WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
“Multiple disease outbreaks would be catastrophic for communities and health systems battling the Covid-19, making it more urgent than ever to invest in childhood vaccination and ensure every child is reached.”
In all regions, rising numbers of children miss vital first vaccine doses in 2020; millions more miss later vaccines.
Disruptions in immunisation services were widespread last year, with the WHO South-East Asian and Eastern Mediterranean most affected.
As access to health services and immunisation outreach were curtailed, the number of children not receiving even their first vaccinations increased in all regions.
As compared with 2019, 3.5 million more children missed their first dose of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine while three million more children missed their first measles dose.
– Unicef

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