Vaccines distribution in Syria Vaccines distribution in Syria  (AFP or licensors)

Children's vaccinations on the rise after drop due to Covid-19

According to the data published by the WHO and UNICEF, 2022 saw a large increase in immunization rates among children compared to the previous year which had recorded a significant reduction in vaccine uptake due to the pandemic.

By Edoardo Giribaldi

The World Health Organization and UNICEF released new data showing a recover in the number of children that have received routine immunization services in 2022, with 20.5 million who were not vaccinated compared to the 24.4 million in 2021.

Encouraging numbers

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s Director-General, expressed his satisfaction for these encouraging numbers, giving credit to “those who have worked so hard to restore life-saving immunization services after two years of sustained declines in immunization coverage.”

The drop was mainly caused by the pandemic outbreak, which caused “a historic backdrop” in the number of children that received one or more vaccines.

Uneven distribution

Adhanom Ghebreyesus, however, warned about the unevenly distribution of the immunization recovery process, especially in its early stages.

“Global and regional averages do not represent the full picture and hide serious and persistent inequalities,” WHO’s Director-General affirmed, adding that “when countries and regions lag behind, children pay the price."

The data show how, parallel to the progress made by best-resourced countries with large children populations, such as India and Indonesia, most low-income countries registered a much slower recovery “or even continued decline.”

Specifically, “of the 73 countries that experienced substantial declines in coverage during the pandemic, 15 have recovered to pre-pandemic levels, 24 are on the road to recovery, and, most worryingly, 34 have stagnated or continued to decline.”

Improve vaccination services

UNICEF’s Executive Director Catherine Russell highlighted how “beneath this positive trend lies grave alarm.” In fact, “Until more countries close gaps in routine immunization coverage, children around the world will continue to be at risk of contracting and dying from diseases that we can prevent.”

The most relevant case regards vaccinations against measles, described as “one of the most contagious pathogens,” which did not keep up with the recovery process of other vaccines.

These viruses, according to Russell, “know no borders.” UNICEF’s Executive Director concluded by emphasizing the necessity to strengthen efforts "to catch up with children who have missed vaccination by restoring and further improving vaccination services compared to pre-pandemic levels."

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18 July 2023, 13:45