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Millions of children at risk from serious disease after Covid disrupts 60 mass immunization campaigns – UN health agencies

Millions of children at risk from serious disease after Covid disrupts 60 mass immunization campaigns – UN health agencies
An alliance of international health agencies has warned that up to 228 million people, mostly children, are at risk from serious disease after the Covid pandemic derailed around 60 mass immunization campaigns in 50 countries.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Gavi vaccines alliance and the World Health Organization (WHO) released a joint statement on Monday warning that, “with 20 million children already missing out on critical vaccinations”, the pandemic has “made a bad situation worse”.

Even before the pandemic, there were worrying signs that we were beginning to lose ground in the fight against preventable child illness, with 20 million children already missing out on critical vaccinations.

The WHO survey of 135 countries found that at least 50 have suspended major immunization campaigns that cover around 228 million individuals, mostly young people in Africa.  

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The delays have already had a real world impact, with a measles outbreak occurring in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan and Yemen. Other life-threatening illnesses that are of great concern to the health agencies due to stalled immunization campaigns include diphtheria, polio and yellow fever.

While some nations have managed to restart their immunization programmes since the pandemic broke out, the WHO found that more than a third of those surveyed are still struggling to get back on track as they battle to get Covid under control.

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