April 20, 2024 6:18 am





UN reports increased childhood routine jabs following COVID-19 setback

Routine Vaccination of Children Increases, but Gaps Remain, Warns UN

Routine vaccination of children is rebounding after a significant decline during the COVID-19 crisis, according to the United Nations. Data released by UN health and children’s agencies reveals that four million additional children received routine childhood vaccines in 2022 compared to the previous year.

World Health Organization (WHO) vaccine chief Kate O’Brien called this development a “good news story,” emphasizing that countries worldwide are making progress in immunizing children at pre-pandemic levels. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus echoed this sentiment, describing the latest data as “encouraging.”

However, both officials stressed that it is important not to overlook the concerning gaps in vaccination rates. While 20.5 million children missed out on one or more routine vaccinations in 2022, this figure represents a decline from the 24.4 million reported in 2021. Nevertheless, it still surpasses the pre-pandemic number of 18.4 million in 2019.

There are significant disparities in the global recovery of vaccination rates. The data shows that countries like India and Indonesia have made remarkable strides in vaccine coverage, but most low-income countries are experiencing slower recovery or further decline.

UNICEF chief Catherine Russell issued a grave warning:
“Until more countries mend the gaps in routine immunization coverage, children everywhere will remain at risk of contracting and dying from diseases we can prevent.”

The UN agencies are particularly concerned about the lag in measles vaccination, a highly contagious disease. Out of the 73 countries that experienced a significant decline in measles vaccine coverage during the pandemic, only 15 have fully recovered to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2022. Another 24 countries are on the path to recovery, while 34 have stagnated or continued to decline.

Last year, 83% of children received their first measles vaccine dose during their first year of life. Although this increased from 81% in 2021, it fell short of the pre-pandemic rate of 86%. This slow recovery puts an additional 35.2 million children at risk of measles infections, according to the UN’s statement.

On a positive note, vaccination coverage against the cancer-causing HPV virus surpassed pre-pandemic levels in 2022, although it remains below the target of 90%.

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