Approximately 25 million children worldwide missed their routine vaccinations against potentially life-threatening illnesses due to COVID pandemic disruptions to healthcare.
The new figures regarding lowered child vaccinations were released by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO). A UNICEF press release referred to the issue as “the largest sustained decline in childhood vaccinations in approximately 30 years.”
“This is a red alert for child health. We are witnessing the largest sustained drop in childhood immunization in a generation. The consequences will be measured in lives,” Catherine Russell, UNICEF Executive Director, said in the organization’s press release.
“While a pandemic hangover was expected last year as a result of COVID-19 disruptions and lockdowns, what we are seeing now is a continued decline. COVID-19 is not an excuse. We need immunization catch-ups for the missing millions or we will inevitably witness more outbreaks, more sick children and greater pressure on already strained health systems,” she added.
About 18 million of the 25 million children failed to receive a single dose of DTP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) in 2021. The nations most impacted include India, Nigeria, Indonesia, Ethiopia, and the Philippines.
Vaccine percentages dropped in every region in the study, with East Asia and the Pacific regions experiencing the steepest drops in vaccine coverage.
The consequences of vaccine interruptions for traditional illnesses have already been felt in some parts of the world. UNICEF noted outbreaks of measles and polio in the past 12 months as examples that showed the importance of keeping communities and children healthy.
The recovery period for traditional child vaccinations is unknown, as the COVID pandemic has not yet ended, according to WHO.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday that the pandemic still qualifies as a global emergency, and he was “concerned” about the recent surge in case numbers.
“The virus is running freely, and countries are not effectively managing the disease burden,” he said during a press briefing. “New waves of the virus demonstrate again that COVID-19 is nowhere near over.”
The vaccination push for COVID and boosters continues to remain a focus for the Biden administration. The Daily Wire previously reported that the pharmaceutical company Moderna announced last week that the initial tests of its COVID booster specifically targeting BA.4 and BA.5 variants were more effective than previous shots.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also recommended producing new COVID vaccines against the Omicron variant. The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee approved a plan in a recent 19-2 vote to have the new vaccines ready by early October.
In Los Angeles County, a required indoor mask mandate is also on pace to return on July 29 if the county remains within the CDC’s high transmission threshold. The Biden administration appears to also back the county’s plan.
“My view on this has been very clear, which is local jurisdictions, cities, counties, states should make decisions about mask mandates, because communities are different and their patterns of transmission are different,” Dr. Ashish Jha, President Biden’s COVID coordinator, said on Sunday during an interview on ABC’s “This Week.”
“That said, CDC has very clear guidance on this as well through their COVID community levels. And the CDC recommendation is that when you’re in a high zone, that sort of orange zone, you know, people wearing masks indoors is really important, and it really will make a difference,” he added.