WHO Pushes Routine Vaccinations Amid COVID Downturn
By VOA News April 26, 2021
Thirty-seven percent of surveyed countries are still experiencing disruptions in vaccinating children against deadly diseases like measles compared to 2020 levels, according to a press release from the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
The disruptions stem from the COVID-19 pandemic, the groups say.
They also say 60 lifesaving campaigns are currently "postponed in 50 countries, putting around 228 million people â€” mostly children â€” at risk for measles, yellow fever and polio."
As the world marks World Immunization Week 2021, which takes place in the last week of April, the groups are calling for countries to increase investments in vaccines.
The groups say investment could save 50 million lives by 2030.
"If we're to avoid multiple outbreaks of life-threatening diseases like measles, yellow fever and diphtheria, we must ensure routine vaccination services are protected in every country in the world," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.
Measles outbreaks have been reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan and Yemen, according to the groups. They added that further outbreaks were likely as children are not vaccinated.
"As COVID-19 vaccines are at the forefront of everyone's minds, it is more critical than ever that children maintain access to other lifesaving vaccines to prevent devastating outbreaks of preventable diseases that have started to spread alongside the pandemic," said David Morley, president and CEO of UNICEF Canada. "We must sustain this energy on vaccine rollout to also help children catch up on their measles, polio and other vaccines. Lost ground means lost lives."
UNICEF said it delivered 2.01 billion vaccines in 2020 compared to 2.29 billion in 2019.
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