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With vaccination rates declining worldwide, tens of millions of children are at risk

Covid-19 continues to have consequences around the world. Vaccination against measles, a potentially fatal disease, has been in decline worldwide since the pandemic, putting tens of millions of children at risk, a global report published on Wednesday warned. “For three years, we have raised the alarm about declining vaccination rates and the increased risk to children’s health worldwide,” Ephrem Tekle Lemango, who is in charge of vaccination programs at the institute, said in a press release. . “We have a tight shooting window to regain lost ground,” he warned. Due to Covid-19, “immunization programs have been severely affected,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization (WHO). Behind every statistic in this report is a child at risk of a preventable disease. »

In 2021, about 40 million children missed a dose of measles vaccine – the first dose for 25 million of them and the second for 14.7 million – according to this joint report from the WHO and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Global vaccination coverage for the first dose is thus at its lowest since 2008. Among the countries with the highest number of unimmunized children are Nigeria, India, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Indonesia.

Measles, a highly contagious viral infection for which there is no treatment once infected, gets its name from the red spots it causes on the body, in addition to high fever and possible lung complications. A very high vaccination coverage is necessary to achieve herd immunity. The report estimates that there will be 9 million cases worldwide by 2021, including 128,000 deaths. A total of 22 countries experienced significant outbreaks last year, particularly in Africa and the Middle East.

The number of infections has fallen dramatically since the 2000s, but the number of estimated cases and deaths, according to this work, was higher in 2021 than in 2020. In April, the WHO warned that reported cases of measles had exploded by almost 80% in the first two months of 2022 compared to the same period the previous year. “There is no time to waste, we must act urgently to ensure that these life-saving vaccines reach all children,” said Elizabeth Cousens, President of the UN Fund.

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