“Red Alert” for Childhood Vaccinations Around the World

About 25 million children will have missed one or more doses of the vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and poliomyelitis by 2021. This low coverage has led to the emergence of preventable epidemics.

The Covid-19 crisis and misinformation are at the root of the largest sustained decline in childhood vaccinations against other diseases in nearly three decades, according to a report from the World Health Organization and UNICEF posted on Thursday, July 14.

The proportion of children receiving all three doses of the diphtheria, tetanus and poliomyelitis (DTP) vaccine fell from 86% in 2019 to just 81% in 2021. This vaccine is used worldwide as a key indicator of vaccination coverage. This decline recorded in 2020 and 2021 follows a decade of improvements.

25 million children affected

This is a red warning for children’s health. We are witnessing the largest continuous drop in childhood immunization in a generationCatherine Russell, UNICEF director general, said in a press release.The consequences are measured in number of lives.»

Some 25 million children missed one or more doses of this DTP vaccine by 2021. This is 2 million more than in 2020 and 6 million more than in 2019. Of these 25 million, 18 million N received no dose, the majority in middle and low-income countries – including India, Nigeria, Indonesia, Ethiopia and the Philippines.

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The reasons for this decline are multiple: conflict, increased misinformation and problems with the delivery or continuity of care related to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was hoped that 2021 would catch up after the lockdowns, but instead vaccination rates have continued to decline in all regions of the world.

Do “catch-up vaccination”

This underfunding has led to preventable outbreaks of measles and polio in the past 12 months, the report said. About 24.7 million children missed their first dose of measles in 2021, more than 5 million more than in 2019. And another 14.7 million children did not receive their second dose. The vaccination rate for the first dose against measles was therefore 81% in 2021, the lowest since 2008.

The bad news comes as malnutrition rates continue to rise. A malnourished child already has weaker immune defenses and is therefore more likely to develop severe cases of these preventable diseases. “We must catch up on immunization for the millions of missing children, or we will inevitably see more epidemics, sick children and great strain on already stretched health systems.” pleaded Catherine Russell.

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