UNICEF: 67 Million Kids Missed out on Vaccines Due to COVID

UNITED NATIONS (AFP-Jiji) — Some 67 million children partially or fully missed routine vaccines globally between 2019 and 2021 because of lockdowns and health care disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations said April 19.

“More than a decade of hard-earned gains in routine childhood immunization have been eroded,” read a new report from the U.N.’s children’s agency, UNICEF, adding that getting back on track “will be challenging.”

Of the 67 million children whose vaccinations were “severely disrupted,” 48 million missed out on routine vaccines entirely, UNICEF said, flagging concerns about potential polio and measles outbreaks.

Vaccine coverage among children declined in 112 countries and the percent of children vaccinated worldwide slipped 5 points to 81% — a low not seen since 2008. Africa and South Asia were particularly hard hit.

“Worryingly, the backsliding during the pandemic came at the end of a decade when, in broad terms, growth in childhood immunization had stagnated,” the report said.

Vaccines save 4.4 million lives each year, a number the United Nations figures could jump to 5.8 million by 2030 if its ambitious targets to leave “no one behind” are met.