COVID-19 pandemic fuels largest continued backslide in vaccinations in three decades

WHO and Unicef sound the alarm as 25 million infants miss out on "life saving" vaccines.

According to WHO 2.6 million children missed their immunizations.

The largest sustained decline in childhood vaccinations in approximately 30 years has been recorded in official data published today by WHO and UNICEF.

The percentage of children who received three doses of the vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP3) – a marker for immunization coverage within and across countries – fell 5 percentage points between 2019 and 2021 to 81 per cent.

As a result, 25 million children missed out on one or more doses of DTP through routine immunization services in 2021 alone. This is 2 million more than those who missed out in 2020 and 6 million more than in 2019.

The decline was due to many factors including an increased number of children living in conflict and fragile settings where immunization access is often challenging, increased misinformation and COVID-19 related issues such as service and supply chain disruptions, resource diversion to response efforts, and containment measures that limited immunization service access and availability.

"We are witnessing the largest sustained drop in childhood immunization in a generation. The consequences will be measured in lives,

Catherine Russell, UNICEF Executive Director. “While a pandemic hangover was expected last year as a result of COVID-19 disruptions and lockdowns, what we are seeing now is a continued decline. COVID-19 is not an excuse. We need immunization catch-ups for the missing millions."

18 million of the 25 million children did not receive a single dose of DTP during the year, the vast majority of whom live in low- and middle-income countries, with India, Nigeria, Indonesia, Ethiopia and the Philippines recording the highest numbers. Among countries with the largest relative increases in the number of children who did not receive a single vaccine between 2019 and 2021 are Myanmar and Mozambique.

Globally, over a quarter of the coverage of HPV vaccines that was achieved in 2019 has been lost.

In the Americas, vaccination rates against polio, measles, rubella, diphtheria and other vaccine preventable diseases had been decreasing for the past ten years.

*watch out THEY are going to turn up the heat and surveillance, and strengthen the infrastructure of national immunization programs, taking advantage of investments made during the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out. *

"Monumental efforts will be required to reach universal levels of coverage."

**WHO and UNICEF are working with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and other partners to deliver the global Immunization Agenda 2030 (IA2030), a strategy for all countries and relevant global partners to achieve set goals on preventing diseases through immunization and delivering vaccines to everyone, everywhere, at every age.

COVID-19 pandemic fuels largest continued backslide in vaccinations in three decades - PAHO/WHO | Pan American Health Organization

Not just children, but All human beings are to be vaccinated.