The number of children who have fallen behind on their routine vaccinations against common diseases, including Diptheria, tetanus, and pertussis, increased in 2021. Vaccination rates fell to the lowest levels since 2008.
According to a new report from the World Health Organization and UNICEF, 25 million children missed their vaccinations last year, a stunning increase as health officials hoped more children would get caught up on their vaccines amid the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
The WHO said there were many factors for the global increase in unvaccinated children, 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.”
“This is a red alert for child health. We are witnessing the largest sustained drop in childhood immunization in a generation. The consequences will be measured in lives,” said Catherine Russell, UNICEF Executive Director. “While a pandemic hangover was expected last year as a result of COVID-19 disruptions and lockdowns, what we are seeing now is a continued decline. COVID-19 is not an excuse. We need immunization catch-ups for the missing millions, or we will inevitably witness more outbreaks, more sick children, and greater pressure on already strained health systems.”
Most of the children who failed to get vaccinated live in low-and-middle-income countries, including Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, and the Philippines.