EHS-COVID (430) WHO press release: COVID-19 pandemic leads to major backsliding on childhood vaccinations

15 July, 2021

We have noted that immunisation services have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Today's press release gives an indication of the seriousness of the situation.

From the WHO website. Read online: https://www.who.int/news/item/15-07-2021-covid-19-pandemic-leads-to-majo...

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15 July 2021 News release Geneva/New York

23 million children missed out on basic vaccines through routine immunization services in 2020 ­ 3.7 million mmore than in 2019 - according to official data published today by WHO and UNICEF. This latest set of comprehensive worldwide childhood immunization figures, the first official figures to reflect global service disruptions due to 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 ly did not receive a single vaccine during the year, widening already 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 COVID-19 vaccines, we have gone backwards on other vaccinations, leaving children at risk from devastating but preventable diseases like measles, polio or meningitis,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “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.”...

Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director: “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....

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Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator, neil@hifa.org www.hifa.org