UNICEF: Falling Vaccine Coverage Dangerous For Children Worldwide

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UNICEF: Falling Vaccine Coverage Dangerous For Children Worldwide
UNICEF: Falling Vaccine Coverage Dangerous For Children Worldwide

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UNICEF: Falling Vaccine Coverage Dangerous for Children Worldwide

Dangerous inaction on vaccinations puts children around the world at risk of preventable diseases, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) warns, blaming conflict, inequality and negligence.

UNICEF: Falling Vaccine Coverage Dangerous for Children Worldwide
UNICEF: Falling Vaccine Coverage Dangerous for Children Worldwide

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Dangerous inaction on vaccinations puts children around the world at risk of preventable diseases, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) warns, blaming conflict, inequality and negligence.

According to UNICEF, last year 20 million children around the world - one in ten children - missed basic immunization against life-threatening infections such as measles, diphtheria and tetanus.

Since 2010, global coverage with three doses of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP) vaccines and one dose of measles vaccine has stalled at around 86%. Although to prevent outbreaks and the formation of herd immunity, at least 95% of vaccinated children should be.

UNICEF data show that there were almost 350,000 measles cases worldwide in 2018 (the incidence more than doubled compared to 2017). Serious outbreaks have occurred in countries with armed conflict - the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia.

The country with the highest incidence of measles was Ukraine, where vaccination rates fell to 54% in 2010 and have been low for several years. A shortage of vaccines, mistrust of doctors, and the popularity of anti-vaccination theories all played a role. Although more than 90% of children have now been vaccinated, long-term low coverage has put large numbers of older children and adults at risk.

“Measles is a direct indicator of places where there is much work to be done to fight preventable diseases. Because measles is too contagious, the outbreak points to communities that lack vaccines due to access, cost, or, in some places, negligence. We must do our best to ensure every child is vaccinated,”said Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF.

Most of the unvaccinated children live in the poorest countries, with a large proportion of them in fragile or conflict-affected states. Almost half of them are in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Iraq, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

“Vaccines are one of our most important tools for preventing outbreaks and keeping the world safe. Although most children are vaccinated today, too many have been left out of sight. It is no good that it is often those who are most at risk - the poorest, marginalized, affected by conflict or displaced from their homes - that are overlooked,”said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

“We have the opportunity to help them with an inexpensive, widely available method. Immunization is a public health silver bullet,”explained Robin Nandy, UNICEF Chief Adviser and Chief of Immunization.

But even in prosperous countries, carelessness about childhood infectious diseases that escaped sight, as well as anti-vaccination, led to a drop in immunization coverage, measles incidence and deaths. Among wealthy countries, the United States tops the list for the number of children who did not receive MMR vaccinations in 2018 (measles, mumps and rubella) (311,185), followed by France (72,703) and the UK (61,788).

“Vaccines save up to 3 million lives annually, but public mistrust caused by insufficient, inaccurate or harmful information means a step backward in the fight against preventable infectious diseases. In high-income countries like the UK, the spread of vaccine-related misinformation on digital and social platforms is a key driver of vaccine rejection. Anti-vaccination groups exploit parents, create confusion and fuel fear in order to disrupt regular vaccination schedules for children,”said Alastair Harper, UNICEF UK Outreach Director.

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