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Covid-19 disrupts measles dose plan of 40 million children

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HQ Team

November 24, 2022: Forty million children in 2021 have missed their measles vaccination since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, which disrupted the dose schedules, according to the WHO.

Twenty-five million children missed their first dose, and an additional 14.7 million children missed their second dose, a joint publication by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated.

“The paradox of the pandemic is that while vaccines against COVID-19 were developed in record time and deployed in the largest vaccination campaign in history,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“Routine immunization programmes were badly disrupted, and millions of kids missed out on life-saving vaccinations against deadly diseases like measles. Getting immunization programmes back on track is absolutely critical. Behind every statistic in this report is a child at risk of a preventable disease,” he said.

128,000 deaths

In 2021, there were an estimated nine million cases and 128,000 deaths from measles worldwide. Twenty-two countries experienced large and disruptive outbreaks.

In the same year, nearly 61 million measles vaccine doses got postponed or missed due to COVID-19-related delays in immunization campaigns in 18 countries.

None of the WHO regions has achieved and sustained measles elimination. Since 2016, ten countries that had previously eliminated measles experienced outbreaks and reestablished transmission.

The main contributors were a decline in vaccine coverage, weakened measles surveillance, and continued interruptions and delays in immunization activities due to COVID-19.

There were large persistent outbreaks in 2022, which meant that measles is an imminent threat in every region of the world, according to the report.

Grave situation

“The situation is grave. Measles is one of the most contagious human viruses but is almost entirely preventable through vaccination.”

There is a need for 95% or greater of two doses of measles-containing vaccine to create herd immunity to protect communities and achieve and maintain the eradication of measles.

Globally the percentages are well below , with only 81% of children receiving their first measles-containing vaccine and only 71% receiving their second vaccine.

“These are the lowest global coverage rates of the first dose of measles vaccination since 2008, although the coverage varies by country,” the report stated.

Under the Immunization Agenda, 2030, global immunization partners remain committed to supporting investments in strengthening surveillance to detect outbreaks quickly.

“They must respond urgently and immunize all children who are not yet protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.”

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