ADVERTISEMENT

COVID-19 causes worst drop in childhood vaccinations in 30 years

ADVERTISEMENT

GGlobal childhood vaccination rates have seen their biggest drop in about three decades amid Covid disruptions, putting a growing number of children at risk for devastating but preventable diseases.

The percentage of children who received three doses of the diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP3) vaccine has fallen to its lowest level since 2008, falling to 81% in 2021, according to official data published by the World Health Organization and the United States. Nations. Children’s fund on Friday.

The drop means 25 million children missed at least one dose of DTP through routine services in 2021 alone, two million more than in 2020 and six million more than in 2019.

“This is a red warning for children’s health,” said UNICEF Director Catherine Russell. “We are witnessing the largest sustained decline in childhood immunization in a generation. The consequences will be measured in lifetimes.”

Read more: Routine childhood vaccination rates fell as misinformation about the COVID-19 Shot Rose

The slump – along with the drop in coverage for other basic vaccines – pushed the world on the wrong track to meet global immunization targets. The decline is due in part to the coronavirus pandemic that has disrupted supply chains, diverted resources and hampered immunization services and availability during lockdowns. A higher number of children living in conflict and fragile environments, as well as more misinformation also played a role, officials said.

Catching up on immunization for the “missing millions” of children is urgently needed to prevent more outbreaks, more sick children and greater strain on already overburdened health systems, Russell said.

Vaccination rates declined in every region, with the East Asia-Pacific region recording the strongest reversal in DTP3 coverage.

Officials previously estimated that 2021 would be a year of recovery for childhood vaccines after the initial Covid shock passed. Still, the sharp two-year decline worsened nearly a decade of stagnant progress.

“Planning and tackling Covid-19 must also go hand in hand with vaccination” for other deadly diseases, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “It’s not a matter of either/or, it’s possible to do both.”

More must-read stories from TIME


Contact us at [email protected]

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT