67 million children missed out on vaccines during pandemic: UNICEF
At least 67 million children missed out entirely or partially on vaccines between 2019 and 2021 due to lockdowns and disruptions to healthcare caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, UNICEF said in a report Wednesday.
It said that "in the past three years, more than a decade of hard-earned gains in routine childhood immunization have been eroded," adding that getting back on track will be challenging.
"In percentage terms, the share of vaccinated children fell 5 percentage points to 81 per cent. In other words, around one in five children worldwide were not fully protected against vaccine-preventable diseases.”
"Worryingly, the backsliding during the pandemic came at the end of a decade when, in broad terms, growth in childhood immunization had stagnated," said the report.
UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said the data is a worrying warning signal.
"We cannot allow confidence in routine immunizations to become another victim of the pandemic. Otherwise, the next wave of deaths could be of more children with measles, diphtheria or other preventable diseases," she said.