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Faced with Covid-19 and the lack of access to care, childhood vaccination is declining

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A joint WHO/UNICEF report on Thursday reveals that the proportion of children who received all three doses of the vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and poliomyelitis (DTP) fell from 86% in 2019 to 81% in 2021. It s This is the largest continuous decline in childhood immunization in nearly 30 years, according to the UN.

The Covid-19 crisis and lack of access to care and information have enhanced the largest continuous decline in childhood vaccination against other diseases in nearly 30 years, according to the UN.

“This is the largest continuing decline in vaccination in a generation,” said Ephrem Tekle Lemango, Unicef’s deputy director for health and immunization via video link from New York.

According to a joint WHO/UNICEF report published on Thursday July 14, the proportion of children who received all three doses of the vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and poliomyelitis (DTP), a reference in terms of global vaccination coverage, fell from 86% in 2019 to 81% in 2021.

Some 25 million children missed one or more doses of this DTP vaccine in 2021 – two million more than in 2020, and six million more than in 2019.

Nearly three quarters of these children have not even received a dose, the majority of them being in countries of the South with middle or low incomes such as India, Nigeria, Indonesia, Ethiopia or the Philippines.

This decline recorded in 2020 and 2021 follows a decade of improvements.

In question in particular: “the significant impact” of the pandemic whose economic consequences “have forced parents and families to choose between feeding themselves and vaccinating their children”, according to the deputy director, while the confinements have also caused this decrease.

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“Service Access”

Misinformation about vaccines, on the rise during the pandemic, especially on social networks, does not play a major role, however.

“We are concerned about misinformation and misinformation, but it is important to recognize that this is not the main factor (explaining) why children are not vaccinated,” said the WHO director for immunization. , Vaccines and Biologicals, Dr. Kate O’Brien.

Rather, it is “access to” care services and their “quality” that is in question, according to Dr. O’Brien, recalling, however, the importance of monitoring the information circulating within local communities, to quickly detect the circulation of fake news.

If necessary, it is then up to the “trusted leaders” of each community to confront them to “ensure that people have correct information” concerning vaccination.

While the pandemic has caused the report of about forty vaccination campaigns in an equivalent number of countries, Dr O’Brien listed what measures countries could put in place to make up for the required delay.

Vaccination campaigns

In particular, it calls for the implementation of vaccination campaigns “to catch up with children missed out on in the past”, requiring the support of “political leadership”, but also adequate funding.

“As we try to catch up, we will have to identify these children (…) and reach them through targeted campaigns”, adds Ephrem Tekle Lemango.

“It means additional funding, and new calls for (obtaining) vaccines” and above all “mobilizing these communities to make these campaigns a success.”

With AFP

Europe 1

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