COVID-19 Disrupts Child Vaccinations Globally

A boy receives a measles-rubella vaccine in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia. Nov. 12, 2020. Image: Septianjar/Xinhua via Getty Images
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A boy receives a measles-rubella vaccine in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia. Nov. 12, 2020. Image: Septianjar/Xinhua via Getty Images

New estimates of COVID-19’s toll on childhood vaccinations find that nearly 23 million children didn’t get routine vaccinations last year, Reuters reports

  • The missed vaccinations, an increase of 3.7 million over 2019’s numbers, led to measles and polio outbreaks, WHO and UNICEF report.

  • Compared with 2019, 3.5 million more children didn’t get their first dose diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine in 2020; and 3 million additional children missed their first measles dose. 

  • 66 countries paused at least 1 vaccination campaign against preventable diseases, Reuters notes.

  • India, Nigeria, and 8 other countries made up most of the 22.7 million children left without diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccinations (or who were under-vaccinated).

Most alarming: “Zero dose” children—those who haven’t received any vaccination—reached 17.1 million last year, up from 13.6 million in 2019. 

The Quote: “The COVID-19 pandemic has led to major backsliding on childhood vaccination, taking us back more than a decade,” said Kate O’Brien, WHO immunizations director.

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