One in five children worldwide are zero-dose or under-vaccinated leaving them vulnerable to a range of preventable diseases such as polio, measles and cholera according to a recent report by UNICEF.
This was heighted by Covid19 pandemic which saw at least 67 million children missing out entirely or partially on routine immunization between 2019 and 2021.
This, the organization says are levels that have not been seen since 2008 in a report dubbed The State of the World’s Children 2023: For every child, vaccination.
Due to the pandemic, UNICEF says, half of all vaccination campaigns in 57 countries were cancelled or postponed resulting in 800 million vaccine doses being lost.
From 24-30 April every year the world commemorates World Immunization Week which aims to highlight the collective action needed to protect people from vaccine-preventable diseases.
Under the theme of ‘The Big Catch-Up’, this year’s week seeks to accelerate rapid progress in countries to get back on track to ensure more people, particularly children, are protected from preventable diseases.
Statistics shows that in 1990, 1 in 11 children died before reaching the age of 5. Within three decades, that had fallen to 1 in 27 children an accomplishment that has been attributed to vaccine uptake.
As a consequence diseases are now reappearing in countries where they had previously been controlled. In addition, surges of cases in nations that hadn’t yet eliminated the diseases have also been witnessed. These diseases include cholera, measles and polio outbreaks.
Missed immunization has been attributed to inequity, poverty and underserved communities. Most of these children live in the remotest of rural areas, urban slums, crisis-affected regions, and migrant and refugee communities.
The organization has called upon governments and other stakeholders to urgently take action and tailor immunization campaigns to reach these children that have missed the vaccines.