Pandemic contributes to biggest decline in childhood vaccinations in 30 years - Plataforma Media

Pandemic contributes to biggest decline in childhood vaccinations in 30 years

The covid-19 pandemic contributed to the biggest drop in childhood vaccinations in about 30 years, with 25 million children left unprotected against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough in 2021, according to UN estimates released today.

The estimates were released by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) – UN agencies – and are based on data provided by 177 countries.

The two agencies warn, in a statement, that the “historic setback in immunization rates” occurs at the same time as the increase in rates of acute or severe malnutrition.

“The convergence of a hunger crisis with a growing immunization gap threatens to create the conditions for a child survival crisis”, they warn, noting that “a malnourished child already has weakened immunity” and vaccines that are not administered “can mean that common childhood illnesses quickly become lethal.”

According to WHO and UNICEF, the percentage of children who received three doses of the triple vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough – “a marker for vaccine coverage in countries” – dropped five percentage points to 81% between 2019 and 2021.

A total of 25 million children remained unvaccinated with one or more doses against these three diseases in 2021, equivalent to two million more compared to 2020 and six million more compared to 2019.

Mozambique and Myanmar (formerly Burma) are among the countries that recorded the largest relative increases in the number of children without a single vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough between 2019 and 2021.

Annually, WHO and Unicef ​​publish, based on data reported by countries, estimates of vaccine coverage. For 2021, data from 177 countries were provided.

According to the two organizations, the estimates “provide the world’s largest and most comprehensive dataset on immunization trends for vaccines against 13 diseases administered by regular health systems.”

The covid-19 pandemic, which led to the “suspension of services” and the supply of vaccines, “to the diversion of resources and containment measures”, is, along with conflicts and disinformation, one of the factors pointed out that led to the decline in childhood vaccination coverage worldwide between 2019 and 2021.

Covid-19 was declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020, and the virus that causes the respiratory disease (SARS-CoV-2) was detected in late 2019 in China.

According to the WHO and Unicef, of the 25 million children who were immunized in 2021 with one or more doses against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough, 18 million did not receive a single dose, most of them from low- and middle-income countries. income, with India, Nigeria, Indonesia, Ethiopia and the Philippines at the top of the list.

Vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough fell in all regions of the world, but East Asia and the Pacific saw the biggest drops in two years, on the order of nine percentage points.

Data from WHO and Unicef ​​also reveal that immunization of children with the first dose of the measles vaccine dropped to 81% last year.

This meant that 24.7 million children did not receive the first dose against measles in 2021, 5.3 million more than in 2019. Another 14.7 million children were left without the second dose.

Also compared with 2019, 6.7 million more children were not immunized in 2021 with the third dose of the polio vaccine and 3.5 million girls missed the first dose of the human papillomavirus vaccine, which causes cervical cancer. uterus.

WHO and UNICEF warn that worldwide coverage with the first dose of human papillomavirus vaccine is at 15% despite the fact that vaccines have been licensed for more than 15 years.

“This is a red alert for child health. We are witnessing the biggest sustained drop in childhood immunization in a generation. The consequences will be measured in lives”, warned, quoted in the statement, the executive director of Unicef, Catherine Russell, noting that the covid-19 “is no excuse” for the “continuous decline” in the vaccination of children.

According to Catherine Russell, it will be necessary to “recover the immunization” of millions of minors, otherwise there will be “more outbreaks, more sick children and greater pressure on already overstretched health systems”.

Inadequate levels of vaccination coverage have resulted in “preventable outbreaks” of measles and polio in the last year, stress WHO and UNICEF.

The global vaccination strategy promoted by the two organizations and other partners, the 2030 Immunization Agenda, has set a goal of achieving 90% coverage for the “core life-saving vaccines” and halving the number of children without essential vaccines.

Este artigo está disponível em: Português

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