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67 million children missed out on vaccinations between 2019 and 2021.

21 Apr 2023

At least  67 million children globally have missed out on vaccinations between 2019 and 2021.

A press release from UNICEF says the 2023 report also showed that vaccination coverage levels have also decreased in 112 countries.

The release also says UNICEF launched its annual State of the World Children’s report focusing on key issues affecting children.

“Children born just before or during the COVID-19 pandemic are now moving past the age when they would normally be vaccinated, underscoring the need for urgent action to catch up for those who were missed and prevent deadly disease outbreaks,” says the release.

The release says in 2022, the number of measles cases globally was more than double the total in the previous year, adding that the number of children paralysed by polio was up 16 per cent year-on-year in 2022.

“Similar to these global trends, data from the Ministry of Health in Botswana show that there has been a decline in routine immunisation coverage since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says the release.

It says the national routine immunisation coverage for the pentavalent vaccine, a critical vaccine that prevents five childhood diseases has declined from 79 per cent in 2019 to 70 per cent in 2021.

The press release says the continued decline in routine immunisation coverage has recently resulted in outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, including the polio outbreak declared in October 2022 which triggered two rounds of polio immunisation campaigns.

“We applaud the collaboration betweengovernment and its partners in rolling out two rounds of polio vaccination activities nationwide,” the release says.

While progress has been made in integrating immunisation into delivery of primary healthcare services, it says there are children in remote, low-income and marginalised communities that have never accessed immunisation services and therefore live in so-called ‘zero-dose communities’.

Further, the release says some  of the causes underlying low routine immunisation rates were linked to the COVID-19 pandemic which interrupted childhood vaccination due to intense demands on health systems, the diversion of immunization resources to COVID-19 vaccination, health worker shortages and lockdowns.

The pandemic, the release says also exacerbated existing inequities for children living in hard-to-reach communities, which disproportionately suffered limited access to services, commodities and personnel for health service delivery.

“UNICEF has been supporting Botswana throughout the COVID-19 response, in particular through procurement of cold chain equipment for health facilities, regional vaccine stores and the central medical store,” said the press release.

It says the support was embedded within a broader strategy to strengthen all aspects of vaccine management and routine immunization systems through technical assistance. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : BOPA

Location : GABORONE

Event : Press Release

Date : 21 Apr 2023