GENEVA/NEW YORK: An official data published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF has revealed a dearth of Childhood Vaccinations in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over 23 million children were reported to have missed out on basic vaccines through routine immunization services in 2020.
This, according to the data, is 3.7 million more than the number of children who missed out from routine immunization services in 2019 with a majority of countries experiencing drops in childhood vaccination rates.
This report is the latest set of comprehensive worldwide childhood immunization figures and the first official figures to reflect global service disruptions due to COVID-19
The report further stated that in all regions, rising numbers of children missed vital first vaccine doses in 2020 while millions of others missed vaccines later in the year
The effect of the drop in immunization services
The report further stated that up to 17 million children likely did not receive a single vaccine in the year 2020 positing that this would widen the already immense inequities in vaccine access.
Most of the affected children include those who live in communities affected by conflict, under-served remote places, or informal or slum settings.
WHO DG’s Statement
The WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted with dismay that children are at risk from devastating but preventable diseases while countries are clamouring for the COVID-19 vaccines.
He stated that it is urgent to invest in childhood vaccination even as the world battles COVID-19.
“Even as countries clamour to get their hands on COVID-19 vaccines, we have gone backwards on other vaccinations, leaving children at risk from devastating but preventable diseases like measles, polio or meningitis.
“Multiple disease outbreaks would be catastrophic for communities and health systems already battling COVID-19, making it more urgent than ever to invest in childhood vaccination and ensure every child is reached.”
Grounds have been lost on children vaccinations – UNICEF
The UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore said that grounds have been lost in the fight to immunize children against preventable childhood diseases stressing the need for attention to be paid to childhood vaccination and address the inequities in vaccine distribution.
“This evidence should be a clear warning – the COVID-19 pandemic and related disruptions cost us valuable ground we cannot afford to lose – and the consequences will be paid in the lives and wellbeing of the most vulnerable.
“Even before the pandemic, there were worrying signs that we were beginning to lose ground in the fight to immunize children against preventable child illness, including with the widespread measles outbreaks two years ago.
“The pandemic has made a bad situation worse. With the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines at the forefront of everyone’s minds, we must remember that vaccine distribution has always been inequitable, but it does not have to be.”
Countries with much increase in missed vaccinations
Eleven countries were said to have had the largest increase in the children not receiving the first dose of the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis combined vaccine (DTP-1).
The countries include India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Philippines, Mexico, Mozambique, Angola, United Republic of Tanzania, Argentina, Venezuela and Mali
The data show e that India experienced a very large drop with DTP-3 coverage falling from 91 per cent to 85 per cent.