Childhood Vaccinations Remain High Despite COVID Pandemic
An infant receiving the RTS,S malaria vaccine in Ghana in 2019. Childhood vaccination campaigns continued to protect against preventable diseases during the pandemic due to healthcare workers.

New statistics from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance show that routine immunisation programmes have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the latest data shows that there is extraordinary resilience in immunisation systems, with governments’ efforts to keep childhood vaccinations going despite the impact of the pandemic paying dividends.

In the face of the pandemic, routine and childhood vaccinations held fairly strong, with routine immunisations dropping only 4% over the course of 2020.

Vaccination rates in 2020 were characterised by a significant drop from March to May, but were followed by a strong rebound due to the work of governments and healthcare workers in lower-income countries.

Gavi’s Annual Progress Report shows that there are now 13.7 million “zero-dose” children in the 68 Gavi-supported countries receiving no immunisations. Many of whom live in marginalised communities in rural areas, urban slums, or conflict settings.

“COVID-19 represented a major challenge to childhood vaccination – with parents afraid to venture out to clinics and health care system capacity stretched to deal with a major influx of patients,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi. “That Gavi countries saw such continuing strength in their vaccination systems is testament to an unprecedented effort from governments, Gavi, WHO, UNICEF and other Vaccine Alliance partners to shelter immunisation programmes from the worst effects of the pandemic.”

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Image Credits: WHO.

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