COVID-19 Fuel Worst Decline in Childhood Immunizations in 30 Years
WOODLobal childhood vaccination rates fell by the most in about three decades amid Covid disruptions, putting an increasing number of children at risk of dangerous but preventable diseases.
The percentage of children receiving three doses of the diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP3) vaccine is set back to its lowest level since 2008, falling to 81% by 2021, according to official figures. published by the World Health Organization and the United Nations. Children’s Fund on Friday.
The drop means 25 million children missed at least one dose of DTP through regular services in 2021 alone, two million more than in 2020 and six million more than in 2019.
“This is a red flag for child health,” said Catherine Russell, UNICEF Executive Director. “We are seeing the largest sustained drop in childhood immunizations in a generation. The consequences will be measured in lives.”
Read more: Routine vaccination rates for children misinformed about COVID-19 Shot Rose
The slide – along with falling coverage for other basic vaccines – has pushed the world off track in meeting global immunization goals. The drop was partly due to the coronavirus pandemic which has disrupted supply chains, diverted resources and hampered immunization services and availability during the shutdown. Officials say more and more children are living in conflict, and the fragile environment and more misinformation also play an important role.
Mr Russell said it was urgent to catch up on vaccinations for “millions of missing children” to avoid more outbreaks, more sick children and greater pressure on an already strained health system. .
Vaccine coverage declined in every region, with East Asia and the Pacific recording the strongest reversals in DTP3 coverage.
Officials previously estimated that 2021 will be a recovery year for children’s vaccines after the initial Covid shock wears off. However, the sharp two-year decline continues to worsen nearly a decade of stalled progress.
“Planning and addressing Covid-19 should also go hand in hand with vaccination” for other killer diseases, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “It’s not a question of either/or, you can do both.”
Other must-read stories from TIME