Unicef recently sounded the alarm over falling vaccination coverage rates in 112 countries. In France, nearly 82,000 children were affected by a deprivation of one or more vaccines between 2019 and 2021.
- Vaccine coverage rates are falling in 112 countries, according to a new UNICEF report.
- Globally, nearly 67 million children have been missed out on one or more vaccines.
- Unicef calls on governments to start catch-up vaccination campaigns very quickly.
In a new report published on April 20, Unicef warned of a decline in childhood vaccination since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the document, 67 million children worldwide were deprived of one or more vaccines between 2019 and 2021. The organization also claimed that vaccination coverage rates are falling in 112 countries.
A loss of confidence in vaccines
Several reasons may explain this decline in childhood vaccination. This phenomenon is particularly linked to the overload of health systems, but above all to a loss of public confidence in vaccines. In France, this lack of confidence in vaccination is estimated at more than 11% and at more than 33% in the Republic of Korea, Papua New Guinea, Ghana, Senegal and Japan, since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
In its study, UNICEF found that China, India and Mexico are the only countries where the importance of childhood vaccination has remained stable or increased. “At the height of the pandemic, scientists were able to rapidly develop vaccines that saved countless lives. Despite this historic success, yet fear and misinformation around vaccination in general have spread on such a large scale. than the virus itself (…) These data are a worrying warning signal. Confidence in routine vaccination should not also count among the victims of the pandemic, otherwise we will soon see a great number of children dying of measles, diphtheria or other preventable diseases”warned Catherine Russell, director general of Unicef.
The need for catch-up vaccination to prevent epidemic outbreaks
In France, nearly 82,000 children were affected by a deprivation of one or more vaccines between 2019 and 2021. A very worrying finding for UNICEF, because “children born just before or during the pandemic will soon be past the age at which vaccines are usually given”. It is therefore urgent to make up for the delays in vaccination, in order to reduce the risk of epidemic outbreaks.
In 2022, health institutions have seen an increase in measles cases. Within three years, the measles vaccination rate dropped by 5%, from 86 to 81%. The report also said the number of children paralyzed after contracting polio increased by 16 % over the same period.
To prevent the risk of global epidemics, UNICEF called on governments to carry out catch-up campaigns and to intensify vaccination in order to protect children. “Routine immunization and strong health systems are our best assets to prevent future pandemics that cause unnecessary death and suffering. Now is the time to take advantage of the resources left over immunization campaigns against COVID-19 to invest in strengthening immunization services and implementing sustainable systems, for every child”can we read in the document.