COVID-19 Disrupts Routine Vaccine Immunisation Worldwide

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Sarah Peddie

At least 80 million children worldwide are under threat from diseases such as diphtheria, measles and polio as COVID-19 disrupts routine vaccine appointments, according to the World Health Organisation and others. 

Data collected by WHO, UNICEF, Gavi and the Sabin Vaccine Institute shows that routine immunisation services have been impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic in around 68 countries and is likely to affect 80 million children under the age of one living in those countries.

This issue has been raised before the Global Vaccine Summit on Thursday 4 June - where leaders will come together to help maintain immunisation programmes and try to reduce the impact of the pandemic in low-income countries. 

Since March 2020, immunisation services have been disrupted on a global scale and more than half of the 129 countries where data is available reported that they have had moderate to severe disruptions or even a total suspension of vaccination services.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General said: “Immunization is one of the most powerful and fundamental disease prevention tools in the history of public health.

“Disruption to immunization programmes from the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to unwind decades of progress against vaccine-preventable diseases like measles.”

There are many reasons as to why there are disrupted services throughout the different countries. Some parents are reluctant to leave their homes because of the restrictions put in place and fear that they could catch the COVID-19 virus whilst leaving the house. 

Also, many health workers are unavailable due to travel restrictions or COVID-19 response duties - as well as the lack of personal protective equipment.

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