Coronavirus pandemic disrupts immunizations efforts worldwide
July 24, 2020 at 3:15 PM EDT – Updated July 24 at 3:15 PM
(CNN) – The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted immunization efforts worldwide, according to a new report from the world’s top health organizations.
The World Health Organization and UNICEF issued a warning stating a disruption of immunization efforts could reverse progress made against some serious illnesses.
While immunization coverage for some vaccines stalled before the coronavirus hit, a recent joint report from the WHO and UNICEF shows nearly 20 million children are under vaccinated. Almost half of them live in the Africa region.
“Vaccines are one of the most powerful tools in the history of public health, and more children are now being immunized than ever before,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “But the pandemic has put those gains at risk.”
The report says for the first time in 28 years, the world could see a reduction in coverage for the vaccine protecting against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, also known as whooping cough.
At least 30 measles and rubella campaigns were also canceled or at risk of being canceled. This could likely result in intensified outbreaks.
“The avoidable suffering and death caused by children missing out on routine immunizations could be far greater than COVID-19 itself,” Tedros said.
Tedros says vaccines can be delivered safely even during the pandemic, and he called for countries to ensure that happens.
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