Measles, polio, and other avoidable diseases, witnessed an outbreak, as 23 million children missed their routine vaccinations, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the UN agencies said.
The WHO and the United Nations Children’s Fund said in an annual report that the worldwide vaccination coverage gap has created a “perfect storm,” leaving more children vulnerable to infectious infections as many countries relax COVID-19 regulations.
Removing restrictions has the potential to increase not only COVID-19 transmission, but also the spread of diseases that are ordinarily vaccine-preventable.
According to the World Health Organization, measles, one of the world’s most contagious illnesses, can be fatal to children under the age of five, especially in African and Asian nations with weak health systems.
Polio can permanently disable a youngster.
Regarding a key indicator of childhood vaccination rates, ten countries, led by India and Nigeria, account for the majority of the 22.7 million children who are unvaccinated or under-vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTP) in 2020 – 3.7 million more than in 2019 and the most since 2009.
There has been an “alarming increase” in “zero dose” children – those missing out on any vaccination – which rose to 17.1 million last year from 13.6 million, said Ephrem Lemango, UNICEF chief of immunisation. Many live in war-torn countries or slums, he said.
Sixty-six countries postponed at least one immunisation campaign against preventable diseases, although some including Mexico have begun catch-up programmes, the report said.