'Red Alert' for Child Immunization Around the World
18 million children did not receive any doses of the vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and poliomyelitis (DTP) in 2021.
The COVID-19 crisis and misinformation are behind the largest continuous decline in childhood immunization against other diseases in nearly three decades, according to a report by the World Health Organization. Health (WHO) and UNICEF published on Thursday.
The proportion of children who received all three doses of the vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and poliomyelitis (DTP) fell from 86% in 2019 to only 81% in 2021. This vaccine is used as a key indicator of coverage coverage across the world.
This decline in 2020 and 2021 follows a decade of improvements.
It is& This is a red alert for children's health. We are witnessing the largest continuous decline in childhood immunization in a generation, UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said in a statement. The consequences will be measured in number of lives.
Some 25 million children missed one or more doses of this DTP vaccine in 2021. This is two million more than in 2020, and six million more than in 2019.
Of those 25 million, 18 million received no dose, the majority of them in middle and low income countries – including India , Nigeria, Indonesia, Ethiopia and the Philippines.
The reasons for this drop are multiple: conflicts, increased misinformation, and supply or continuity of care issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was hoped that 2021 is starting to catch up after the lockdowns, but instead vaccination rates have continued to decline, in all regions of the world.
This undercoverage has led to preventable outbreaks of measles and polio over the past 12 months, the report pointed out.
About 24.7 million children missed their first dose of measles in 2021, more than 5 million more than in 2019. And an additional 14.7 million children did not receive their second dose.
Vaccine coverage for the first dose against measles was thus 81% in 2021, the lowest rate since 2008.
We need to catch up on immunization for the millions [of children] missing, or we will inevitably see more epidemics, sick children and great strain on already strained healthcare systems, pleaded Catherine Russell.< /p>