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Your Covid-19 questions answered

How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected other vaccination efforts?

20 July 2022 - 07:18
The Covid-19 pandemic has seen a decline in childhood vaccinations. File photo.
The Covid-19 pandemic has seen a decline in childhood vaccinations. File photo.
Image: 123RF/Katarzyna Białasiewicz

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported the largest sustained decline in childhood vaccinations in about 30 years, partly due to difficulties brought by the Covid-19 pandemic.

This was revealed in a recent report published by the WHO and Unicef

It said the percentage of children who received three doses of the vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP3) fell 5% between 2019 and 2021 to 81%.

“As a result, 25-million children missed out on one or more doses of DTP through routine immunisation services in 2021 alone. This is two million more than those who missed out in 2020 and six million more than in 2019, highlighting the growing number of children at risk from devastating but preventable diseases.”

It also noted an increase in children living in conflict areas or circumstances where immunisation access is often difficult.,

The Covid-19 pandemic brought increased misinformation, service and supply chain disruptions, resource diversion to coronavirus response efforts and lockdown measures that limited immunisation access and availability.

“While a pandemic hangover was expected last year as a result of Covid-19 disruptions and lockdowns, what we are seeing now is a continued decline. Covid-19 is not an excuse. We need immunisation catch-ups for the missing millions or we will inevitably witness more outbreaks, more sick children and greater pressure on already strained health systems,” said Unicef executive director Catherine Russell.

WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said efforts to tackle Covid-19 should go hand-in-hand with vaccinating for other killer diseases.

“It’s not a question of either/or. It’s possible to do both”.

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