Childhood immunization begins recovery after COVID-19 backslide

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"Children receiving vaccinations during The Big Catch-Up global initiative"

"Efforts to strengthen immunization services and reach children born during the pandemic."

The COVID-19 pandemic has had severe implications for global health, particularly for immunization services. However, new data from the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF show a promising rebound in 2022, with services reaching an additional 4 million children compared to 2021.

However, the recovery journey is far from over. Despite improvements, 20.5 million children missed out on essential vaccines in 2022, a figure lower than the 24.4 million in 2021 but still exceeding the 18.4 million recorded in 2019.

The global health community continues to monitor the number of ‘zero-dose’ children – those who didn’t receive a single dose of the Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (DTP) vaccine – a key indicator of immunization coverage. Despite a decrease from 18.1 million in 2021 to 14.3 million in 2022, the number remains above the pre-pandemic figure of 12.9 million.

Progress in immunization recovery has been inconsistent, with larger economies like India and Indonesia making significant progress, masking slower progress in low-income countries, especially regarding measles vaccination.

To address these issues, a global initiative called ‘The Big Catch-Up’ has been launched by WHO, UNICEF, Gavi, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and other IA2030 partners. This initiative aims to restore immunization services to pre-pandemic levels, reach children who missed out on vaccinations, and bolster services for the future.

Despite ongoing challenges, these recovery efforts symbolize a glimmer of hope for global immunization coverage, reiterating the collective commitment to ensuring that no child is left behind.

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