WHO and UNICEF: COVID-19 pandemic fuels largest continued backslide in vaccinations in three decades

22 July, 2022

Extracts and a question from me below. Full text: https://www.who.int/news/item/15-07-2022-covid-19-pandemic-fuels-largest...


WHO and UNICEF sound the alarm as new data shows global vaccination coverage continued to decline in 2021, with 25 million infants missing out on lifesaving vaccines

15 July 2022 Joint News Release

The largest sustained decline in childhood vaccinations in approximately 30 years has been recorded in official data published today by WHO and UNICEF.

The percentage of children who received three doses of the vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP3) – a marker for immunization coverage within and across countries – fell 5 percentage points between 2019 and 2021 to 81 per cent.

As a result, 25 million children missed out on one or more doses of DTP through routine immunization services in 2021 alone. This is 2 million more than those who missed out in 2020 and 6 million more than in 2019, highlighting the growing number of children at risk from devastating but preventable diseases. The decline was due to many factors including an increased number of children living in conflict and fragile settings where immunization access is often challenging, increased misinformation and COVID-19 related issues such as service and supply chain disruptions, resource diversion to response efforts, and containment measures that limited immunization service access and availability...

“Planning and tackling COVID-19 should also go hand-in-hand with vaccinating for killer diseases like measles, pneumonia and diarrhea,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “It’s not a question of either/or, it’s possible to do both”...

“It’s heart-breaking to see more children losing out on protection from preventable diseases for a second year in a row. The priority of the Alliance must be to help countries to maintain, restore and strengthen routine immunization alongside executing ambitious COVID-19 vaccination plans, not just through vaccines but also tailored structural support for the health systems that will administer them,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance...

The IA2030 partners call on governments and relevant actors to:

- Intensify efforts for catch-up vaccination to address backsliding on routine immunization, and expand outreach services in underserved areas to reach missed children and implement campaigns to prevent outbreaks;

- Implement evidence-based, people-centred, and tailored strategies to build trust in vaccines and immunization, counter misinformation and increase vaccine uptake particularly among vulnerable communities;

- Ensure current pandemic preparedness and response and the global health architecture strengthening efforts lead to investment in primary health care (PHC) services, with explicit support to strengthen and sustain essential immunization;

- Ensure political commitment from national governments and increase domestic resource allocation to strengthen and sustain immunization within PHC;

- Prioritize health information and disease surveillance systems strengthening to provide the data and monitoring needed for programmes to have maximum impact; and

- Leverage and increase investment in research to develop and improve new and existing vaccines and immunization services that can achieve community needs and deliver on IA2030 goals.

1 Of countries with at least 10,000 zero-dose children in 2021


Question: What happened 3 decades ago to cause an even bigger backslide in vaccinations? Andrew Wakefield's discredited anti-vaccine activism has had (and continues to have) an impact, but this has been only over the past 20 years or so.

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh, Global Coordinator HIFA, www.hifa.org neil@hifa.org

Global Healthcare Information Network: Working in official relations with WHO