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UN warns of another consequence of the pandemic

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Globally, the rate of vaccination of children against measles, poliomyelitis, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis has dropped drastically, which can trigger outbreaks of these diseases.

Last year, when the whole world was faced with the coronavirus pandemic, 23 million children did not receive routine immunization against major diseases (3.7 million more than in 2019), according to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund ( UNICEF), published on Thursday 15 July.

As the authors of the report clarified, about 17 million children did not receive a single vaccine in 2020. In total, 57 mass vaccination campaigns have been postponed in 66 countries.

Some 22.7 million children reportedly missed their first dose of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine last year, up 3.5 million from a year earlier. 

At the same time, the number of those who were not vaccinated against measles on time increased by three million and reached 22.3 million.

“Multiple disease outbreaks could be a disaster for communities and health systems fighting COVID-19. This makes it even more urgent than ever to invest in childhood vaccinations,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adan Ghebreyesus commented on the report.

In turn, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore emphasized that the coronavirus pandemic and the related disruptions in vaccination lead to “consequences for which the lives and well-being of the most vulnerable populations are to be paid.”

Thus, the UN concluded that it is necessary to give high priority to the restoration of the regular childhood vaccination campaigns undermined by the coronavirus pandemic, which should be planned and funded in parallel with immunization against coronavirus.

Image Credit: Getty

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