August 3, 2021

NEWS AGENCY OF NIGERIA

Africa's Media Giant

COVID-19 pandemic leads to major backsliding in childhood vaccinations — Data

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WHO

WHO and UNICEF data show that 23 million children missed out on basic childhood vaccines through routine health services in 2020.

By Franca Ofili

A new data published by World Health Organisation (WHO) and UN Children’s Fund ( UNICEF) on Thursday shows that 23 million children missed out on basic childhood vaccines through routine health services in 2020.

The data, which states the figure as the highest since 2009 and 3.7 million more than in 2019, states that it is the latest set of comprehensive worldwide childhood immunisation figures and first official figures to reflect global service disruptions due to COVID-19.

It notes that majority of countries experienced drop in childhood vaccination rates in 2020, adding that up to 17 million children likely did not receive a single vaccine during the year, widening the already immense inequities in vaccine access.

The data indicates that 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.

It notes that “as countries clamour to get COVID-19 vaccines, we have gone backwards on other vaccinations, leaving children at risk from devastating but preventable diseases like measles, polio or meningitis.

“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 in 2020, with the WHO Southeast Asian and Eastern Mediterranean
Regions most affected.

“Compared with 2019 figure, 3.5 million more children missed their first dose of diphtheria, tetanus and Pertussis vaccine (DTP-1),
while three million more missed measles first dose.

“This evidence should be a clear warning that the COVID-19 pandemic and related disruptions cost us valuable ground we cannot afford to lose. The consequences will be paid in the lives and wellbeing of the most vulnerable.”

The WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, also said that multiple disease outbreaks would be catastrophic for communities and health systems already battling COVID-19, making it urgent than ever to invest in childhood vaccination and ensure every child was
reached.

He added that “even before the pandemic, there were worrying signs that we were beginning to lose ground in the fight to immunise children against preventable child illnesses, including widespread measles outbreaks two years ago.”

UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, also said “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.” (NAN)

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