According to studies published in The Lancet Global and regional estimates of COVID-19’s impact on routine childhood, immunisation indicates unparalleled disruptions in delivery of vaccines against measles (MCV1) and diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough) (DTP3) – with 2020 coverage likely falling in some regions to levels not seen in over a decade.
The COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission substantially affected health services worldwide. To better understand the impact of the pandemic on childhood routine immunisation, we estimated disruptions in vaccine coverage associated with the pandemic in 2020, globally and by Global Burden of Disease (GBD) super-region.
COVID-19 pandemic in 2020; Children Vaccinations deeply impacted due to pandemic
An estimated 8.5 million third doses of DTP vaccine and 8.9 million first doses of measles vaccine were missed by children worldwide in 2020—a relative decline of more than 7% over expected coverage levels had no pandemic occurred (83% expected global coverage vs 77% estimated due to pandemic disruption for the third dose of DTP; 86% vs 79% for first dose measles vaccine).
Estimates as per The Lancet suggest twice as many children may have missed doses of each vaccine than expected due to pandemic disruptions in high income countries in Central Europe; Eastern Europe, and Central Asia; and North Africa and the Middle East.
Although child vaccination rates improved in later months of 2020, catch-up efforts are lagging, and authors warn that the world may face a resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases unless a concerted effort is taken to get routine immunisation services back on track.