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  • Vaccine coverage stalled at 85 percent for almost a decade

    Vaccine coverage stalled at 85 percent for almost a decade | Photo: AFP

Published 15 July 2020
Opinion

2020 records a significant drop for children completing three doses of the vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) warned on Wednesday about a considerable decline in vaccinations for children worldwide as a result of the disruption in the immunization caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The current fall in the vaccination rate fell for the first time in 28 years as 2020 records a substantial drop for children completing three doses of the vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough.

According to both organizations, vaccine coverage stalled at 85 percent for almost a decade, which allowed life-saving vaccines to 14 million children yearly.

Notably, the United Nations agencies explain that that country lockdowns measures have halted the delivery of immunization services in at least 68 countries, which puts approximately 80 million children under the age of 1 at increased risk of contracting vaccine-preventable diseases.

The West and Central Africa region is among the hardest-hit by the lack of vaccinations, followed by Latin America, which, in the decade 2010-2019, showed an alarming 12 percent drop in coverage of vaccines.

The organization's highlights that in the aftermath of the COVID-19, at least 30 measles vaccination campaigns were or are at risk of being canceled. This outcome could turn into outbreaks by the end of 2020 and the following years.

The research, conducted in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the Sabin Vaccine Institute, and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, showed that three-quarters of the 82 countries that responded reported COVID-19 related disruptions in their immunization programs as of May 2020.

"COVID-19 has made previously routine vaccination a daunting challenge," said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, warning that authorities must prevent a further deterioration in vaccine coverage and urgently resume vaccination programs before children's lives are threatened by other diseases.

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