Between 2019 and 2021, the percentage of children who received three doses of DPT3, diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough dropped by 5 points. This reduced coverage to 81%.
According to WHO and UNICEF, DPT3 coverage is used as a marker for higher immunization coverage.
“As a result, in 2021 alone, 25 million children missed one or more doses of DTP through routine immunization services. This is 2 million more than in 2020 and 6 million more than in 2019, highlighting the growing number of children at risk for devastating but preventable diseases,” they said. Eighteen million of these children did not receive a single dose of the vaccine, most of whom lived in low- and middle-income countries.
Other declines were seen for HPV, which lost more than a quarter of coverage achieved in 2019, and for measles, where first-dose coverage dropped to 81% in 2021. WHO notes that this is the lowest level since 2008 and means 24.7. million children missed their first dose in 2021.
All regions saw declines in vaccination coverage, with the sharpest decline in DPT3 vaccination coverage occurring in East Asia and the Pacific. However, some countries managed to contain the decline, including Uganda and Pakistan.
This decline was driven by several factors, including an increase in the number of children living in conflict and other precarious environments, rising misinformation, and concerns related to Covid-19.
“This is a wake-up call for children’s health. We are witnessing the largest sustained decline in childhood immunization in a generation. The impact will be measured in lives,” said UNICEF Executive Director Katherine Russell. “While a pandemic hangover was expected last year as a result of COVID-19 disruptions and lockdowns, what we are seeing now is an ongoing downturn. COVID-19 is no excuse. will inevitably see more outbreaks, more sick children and more pressure on already overburdened health systems.”
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that “Planning for and managing COVID-19 must also go hand in hand with vaccination against deadly diseases such as measles, pneumonia and diarrhoea. It’s not a question of either/or, you can do both. .”