The World Health Organization is working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other not-for profit organizations and agencies to reverse a pandemic-driven decline in routine childhood vaccinations.*
The initiative was launched on Monday by the WHO, UNICEF, the GAVI vaccine alliance and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation among others, and seeks to protect countries from vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks such as measles and yellow fever.
The efforts will focus on boosting rates in 20 countries, which account for 75% of the children who missed vaccinations in 2021.
“WHO is supporting dozens of countries to restore immunization and other essential health services. Catching up is a top priority. No child should die of a vaccine-preventable disease,” WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
Vaccination rates in children during the pandemic took a hit due to overburdened clinics, lockdown restrictions and disruptions in transport of vials, syringes and other medical supplies.
According to the WHO, 25 million children under the age of 1 year did not receive basic vaccines in 2021 and global immunization coverage for children dropped to 81% that year from 86% in 2019.
People all over the world lost confidence in the importance of routine childhood vaccines against killer diseases such as measles and polio during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report from UNICEF last week.
*[Ed] Accompanied by significant decline in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (aka crib death). See https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m2392/rr-1