About 25 million children worldwide have missed out on routine immunization against common diseases such as diphtheria, in large part because the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted regular health services or sparked misinformation about vaccines, according to the United Nations.
in New report published FridayThe World Health Organization and UNICEF said their figures show 25 million children last year failed to get the diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine, an indicator for childhood immunization coverage, continuing the downward trend that began in 2019.
“This is a red alert about child health,” said Catherine Russell, UNICEF Executive Director.
“We are seeing the largest sustained drop in child immunization in a generation,” she said, adding that the consequences will be measured in lives lost.
The data showed that the vast majority of children who failed immunization lived in developing countries, namely Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and the Philippines. While vaccine coverage has decreased in every region of the world, the worst effects were seen in East Asia and the Pacific.
Experts said this “historic decline” in vaccination coverage was particularly alarming because it was occurring as acute malnutrition rates rose. Malnourished children usually have weak immune systems, and infections such as measles can often cause death.
“The convergence of the hunger crisis and the growing immunization gap threatens to create the conditions for a child survival crisis,” the United Nations said.
RELATED: Health Canada approves first COVID-19 vaccine for young children
Scientists said that low vaccine coverage rates have already led to outbreaks of preventable diseases such as measles and polio. In March 2020, the World Health Organization and its partners asked countries to suspend polio eradication efforts amid the acceleration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, dozens of polio epidemics have appeared in more than 30 countries.
“This is particularly tragic as tremendous progress was made in the two decades prior to the COVID pandemic to improve childhood vaccination rates globally,” said Helen Bedford, professor of children’s health at University College London, who was not linked to the UN report. The news was shocking but not surprising, she said, noting that immunization services are often an “early victim” of major social or economic disasters.
Dr David Elleman, consultant pediatrician at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in Britain, said it was critical to reverse the declining vaccination trend among children.
“The effects of what happens in one part of the world can spread to affect the whole world,” he said in a statement, referring to the rapid spread of COVID-19 and more recently monkeypox. “Whether we act on the basis of morality or ‘informed self-interest,’ we must put (children) at the top of our priority list.”
The WHO post: 25 million children missed out on routine vaccinations due to COVID first appeared on CityNews Edmonton.