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Nearly 40 million children susceptible to measles due to COVID-19 disruptions

Last year, pandemic-related disruptions caused 25 million boys and girls to miss their first dose of measles vaccine, while another 14.7 million missed their second dose.

By Newsd
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The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a joint report released on Wednesday that nearly 40 million children are at risk of contracting measles as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year, pandemic-related disruptions caused 25 million boys and girls to miss their first dose of measles vaccine, while another 14.7 million missed their second dose.

The unprecedented drop in measles vaccination coverage represents a significant setback in the global fight against the disease.

The Pandemic Conundrum

“The paradox of the pandemic is that, while vaccines against COVID-19 were developed in record time and deployed in the largest vaccination campaign in history, routine immunisation programmes were severely disrupted, and millions of children missed out on life-saving vaccinations against deadly diseases like measles,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“It is critical to get immunisation programmes back on track. Every statistic in this report represents a child at risk of a preventable disease “He continued.

In 2021, there are expected to be nine million cases of measles worldwide, with 128,000 deaths.

Large and disruptive outbreaks occurred in twenty-two countries, with some continuing into this year.

Everywhere there is a threat.

Measles has become an imminent threat in every region of the world due to declines in vaccine coverage, weakened measles surveillance, and ongoing interruptions and delays in immunisation due to the pandemic.

According to the report, the situation is dire because measles is one of the most contagious human viruses, despite the fact that it is almost entirely preventable through vaccination.

To create herd immunity that will protect communities, coverage of 95% or higher of two vaccine doses is required.

Global coverage rates, however, are at their lowest since 2008, though this varies by country.

Currently, only 81% of children receive their first measles-containing vaccine dose, and 71% receive their second dose.

Diana Zeyneb Alhindawi/UNICEF In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a nurse transports vaccines to remote villages on the banks of the Congo River.

Determine at-risk communities

The report warned that measles can quickly spread throughout communities and across borders, making it a threat everywhere.

Furthermore, none of the WHO’s six global regions has achieved and maintained measles eradication.

“The record number of children under-immunized and susceptible to measles demonstrates the profound damage immunisation systems have sustained during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Measles outbreaks highlight flaws in immunisation programmes, but public health officials can use outbreak response to identify at-risk communities, understand the causes of under-vaccination, and assist in delivering locally tailored solutions to ensure vaccinations are available to all.”

Investment and action

The report urged public health officials to ramp up and strengthen vaccination efforts immediately.

To prioritise efforts toward finding and immunising all unprotected children, coordinated action at all levels – global, regional, national, and local – is required.

To reduce the risk of outbreaks, investments in robust surveillance systems are also required.

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