“This is alarming. This is something we have never seen in our entire life, “said Dr. Seth Berkley, executive director of the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), during a virtual press conference.
This alarm call is launched a few days before the World Summit on Immunization which will be virtually hosted on June 4 by the United Kingdom.
As the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund and Gavi explain in a statement, the pandemic is limiting routine immunization for several reasons. Some parents are reluctant to leave their homes because of movement restrictions, lack of information, or because they fear they may be infected with the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 disease. In addition, many health workers are unavailable due to travel restrictions or their reassignment to pandemic-related tasks.
And while the pandemic has grounded many planes, logistics and transportation issues are disrupting vaccine delivery, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore told media.
Since March, routine immunization services for children, particularly against polio measles, but also against cholera, meningitis and tetanus, in particular, have been disrupted to an unprecedented level since the launch of the expanded vaccination programs in the 1970s .
68 affected countries
According to data collected by the UN and Gavi, the functioning of routine immunization services is significantly disrupted in at least 68 countries, which could affect around 80 million children under the age of one.
At the end of March, fearing that mass rallies for vaccination campaigns would promote the spread of Covid-19, WHO recommended that countries temporarily suspend those carried out for preventive purposes, until the risk assessments and put in place effective measures to reduce the transmission of coronavirus.
After having assessed the situation, WHO now advises “countries to carry out a specific risk assessment according to the local dynamics of the spread of the coronavirus, the capacities of their health system and the public health benefit of carry out vaccination campaigns ”.