As the pandemic’s aftereffects continue to impact global health care, recently released data from Unicef and the World Health Organization indicate the pandemic’s negative impact on children. Reuters reports that in 2012, over 25 million children did not receive routine immunizations that protect against life-threatening infections.
This is two million more children than in 2020 when COVID-19 caused global lockdowns, and six million more than in 2019, prior to the outbreak. The decline in vaccination rates, which has reduced coverage rates to levels not seen since the early 2000s, has been described by Unicef as the most persistent decline in childhood vaccination in a generation.
In an interview with Reuters, Niklas Danielsson, senior immunization specialist for Unicef, emphasized the “urgency” of what he termed a “child health crisis.”
The organization asserted that a focus on COVID-19 immunization programs in 2021, a slowing economy, and a strain on healthcare facilities slowed the recovery of routine immunizations.
In recent months, there have been signs of rising vaccination-preventable disease rates, including a 400% increase in measles cases in Africa by 2022.
The number of “zero-dose” children, or children who have not received any vaccinations, increased by 37% between 2019 and 2021, from 13 to 18 million children, primarily in low- and middle-income countries.