67 million children missed out on vaccinations globally in 3 years

THE United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has revealed that 67 million children missed out on vaccinations across different countries of the world between 2019 and 2021.

UNICEF Nigeria Health Manager Dr. Dorothy Ochola-Odongo, disclosed this during a news conference held on the State of the World Children report, in Abuja.

According to her, the State of the World Report stated that vaccine confidence is volatile and time specific, warning that a total of 67 million children missed out on vaccinations between 2019 and 2021, with vaccination coverage levels decreasing in 112 countries.

“In 2022, for example, the number of measles cases was more than double the total in the previous year.

“Of the 67 million children who missed out on routine vaccination between 2019 and 2022, 48 million did not receive a single routine vaccine, also known as “zero-dose”.

“As of the end of 2021, India and Nigeria (both countries with very large birth cohorts) had the largest numbers of zero-dose children, with Nigeria having two million ‘zero-dose’ children.”

Ochola-Orongo further promised to work with Community Health Influencers, Promoters and Services (CHIPS) agents to increase awareness on routine immunisation in Nigeria.

She said it is important to have CHIPS agents participate fully in the social mobilisation activities, to inspire confidence in parents and caregivers in the communities.

“We have to make sure that we inspire confidence in parents and caregivers within the communities for them to be able to accept the vaccine.

“What we are doing within this area is working with a network of voluntary community mobilisers in the states that are most affected.

“These volunteer community organisers, who are selected by the communities, are good listeners and communicators and can convince the public about the importance of making their children vaccinated.

“They are trusted and we are investing a lot on this so that you can gain that confidence in the community,” she said.

Speaking on vaccine storage, she noted that it is very critical that they are stored in the right place and in the right quality.

According to her, the whole chain system is expected to be expanded so that there would be enough space to be able to store the vaccines as close near to the population as possible.

She also stressed that UNICEF is in partnership with GAVI to expand the cold chain stores in Lagos, Abuja and Kano.

“So, we need refrigerators, which may not necessarily be powered only by electricity because we know the electricity gaps in this country.”

Ochola-Odongo also highlighted the impact of misinformation, disinformation, and information disseminated with malicious intent on the effectiveness of immunisation.

“Building the capacity of relevant stakeholders, such as healthcare workers and the media, through training and the provision of access to useful infodemic management resources has proven to be an effective approach.

“Engaging communities through identified trusted sources of information is an effective approach, as it helps to build trust through timely communication that is specific to the local context,” she explained.

United Nation annual report on Children’s Health

Also, the United Nations on Wednesday, April 19 in its annual report on the state of children’s health, disclosed that 67 million children partially or fully missed routine vaccines globally between 2019 and 2021 because of lockdowns and health care disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“More than a decade of hard-earned gains in routine childhood immunization have been eroded,” a report by UN’s children’s agency, UNICEF, said, adding that getting back on track “will be challenging”.

Of the 67 million children whose vaccinations were “severely disrupted,” 48 million missed out on routine vaccines entirely, UNICEF said, flagging concerns about potential polio and measles outbreaks.

The report stressed that Africa and South Asia were particularly hard hit with low vaccination coverage during that period. 

The percentage of children vaccinated worldwide slipped 5 points to 81 per cent – a low not seen since 2008 as a result of decline in vaccine coverage among children in 112 countries

    “Worryingly, the backsliding during the pandemic came at the end of a decade when, in broad terms, growth in childhood immunization had stagnated,” the report said.

    Meanwhile, in April 5, 2023, The ICIR reported how Kano state recorded high vaccination coverage for Coronavirus.

    The report explained how Islamic clerics  helped to drive high vaccination in the state. COVID-19 vaccination campaigns in Kano had initially suffered a setback due to an ugly experience with a failed Pfizer vaccine trial in the state and a deluge of misinformation.

    Data in the report shows that Kano has vaccinated 100 per cent of its targeted residents.

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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