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Monday, May 27, 2024

A Steep Decrease in the Number of Childhood Vaccinations Puts Millions of Lives at Danger

According to a new study conducted by Unicef, the United Nations agency that vaccinates half of the world’s children, and the World Health Organization, millions of children around the world, the majority of them in the poorest countries, missed some or all of their childhood vaccinations over the past two years as a result of a combination of armed conflicts, climate emergencies, misinformation campaigns, pandemic lockdowns, and Covid vaccination efforts that diverted resources. This was the case due to a combination of

According to the research, this is the greatest step backward in terms of regular vaccination in the last 30 years. It has produced circumstances that, when coupled with the fast growing rates of malnutrition, have the potential to imperil the lives of millions of young children.

Between 2019 and 2021, the percentage of children around the world who had received all three doses of the vaccine known as DTP3, which protects against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis and is used as a benchmark by Unicef to measure immunisation coverage, decreased by five percentage points, bringing the total to 81 percent. The immunisation rate against measles declined to 81 percent, while the vaccination rate against polio also dropped dramatically. It is important to have a vaccination coverage rate of at least 94 percent in order to achieve herd immunity and break the chain of transmission of a disease.

This corresponds to 25 million children who did not get a fundamental intervention in order to safeguard them from diseases that might be fatal.

During the pandemic, the number of children who have not gotten even a single dose of the immunizations considered to be the most fundamental rose dramatically from 13 million in 2019 to 18 million. These children are referred to as “zero-dose” children by Unicef. This category accounts for fifty percent of all children who pass away before the age of five.

According to Dr. Niklas Danielsson, Unicef’s senior immunisation specialist based in Nairobi, the organisation had hoped that childhood vaccination coverage would rebound in 2021 following a sharp decline in 2020 that was driven by lockdowns, school closures, and other Covid response measures. This decline was driven by measures taken in response to the Covid outbreak.

In the realm of child vaccination, he and many others, including himself, had expected a rebound the previous year as health services learnt to adjust to the pressures that the epidemic posed. Instead, he said that efforts spreading false information about the Covid vaccine, together with a larger suspicion of governments’ control over public health measures, were responsible for discouraging regular immunisation.

During the same time period, the health care systems in the world’s most impoverished nations frantically attempted to carry out a limited amount of COVID vaccination, rerouting vital access to freezers and the health personnel who were needed to administer injections to arms.

Throughout the 1990s and the first decade of this century, the global vaccination coverage rate among infants and children continued to increase steadily. Then, the rates started to level down because the remaining children were the most difficult to reach; for example, those who lived in areas where there was ongoing conflict or in nomadic groups. However, prior to the epidemic, there had been a redoubled effort, with backing from organisations like as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Gavi, the global vaccine alliance, to attempt to reach the last pockets of children who had not had any vaccinations. The majority of the focus and investment has been diverted away from Covid.

India, Nigeria, Indonesia, Ethiopia, and the Philippines had the greatest numbers of children who had not received their vaccinations during the course of the last two years.

Brazil, a nation that was formerly recognised for its very high vaccine coverage rates, was included on the list of the 10 nations that were hit the most by the outbreak. Comparatively, around 26 percent of Brazilian children had not got any immunizations by the year 2021, whereas just 13 percent had done so in 2018.

During the Covid epidemic, she claimed, vaccination became into a politically contentious topic in Brazil. Even though Brazil had one of the highest death rates in the world due to the coronavirus, the federal government under the leadership of President Jair Bolsonaro downplayed the significance of the virus. President Bolsonaro also stated that he would not get his own son, who is 11 years old, vaccinated against the virus.

Ms. Caprani stated that while it was encouraging to see a renewed interest in global health cooperation because of Covid, investments in new surveillance measures and other novelties ran the risk of diverting attention from the straightforward intervention that was required to address the child immunisation crisis. This intervention was the deployment of thousands of community health workers.

Jonathan James
Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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