At Least 80 Million Children at Risk As COVID-19 Disrupts Routine Vaccination Efforts

By: | May 29th, 2020

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

According to a new analysis by WHO and UNICEF, COVID-19 is putting millions of children at risk of diseases.  Pandemic is interrupting life saving immunization that could put the lives of children under the age of one at risk. Experts fear this could pave the way for a deadly resurgence of preventable diseases.

WHO director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “COVID-19 threatens to undermine life-saving immunisation services around the world,”

“This risks putting tens of millions of children – in rich and poor countries – at risk of killer diseases like diphtheria, measles and pneumonia.”

There are many reasons behind the disruption of the services.

  • Many of the countries have temporarily suspended vaccination campaigns considering the risk of transmission and need to maintain physical distancing.
  • Many doctors are busy with corona virus response duties, while some are unavailable because of restrictions on travel.
  • Some parents don’t want to move out of home because of restrictions on movement, or because of fear infection.

Tedros said, “Initial analysis suggests the provision of routine immunization services is substantially hindered in at least 68 countries and is likely to affect approximately 80 million children under the age of one living in these countries,”

Henrietta Fore, UNICEF executive director, said, “We cannot let our fight against one disease come at the expense of long-term progress in our fight against other diseases,”

“We have effective vaccines against measles, polio and cholera. While circumstances may require us to temporarily pause some immunization efforts, these immunizations must restart as soon as possible, or we risk exchanging one deadly outbreak for another

WHO is going to issue instructions to countries on maintaining essential services including recommendations on how to provide immunization safely.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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