The World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN children’s fund Unicef are sounding the alarm because of a significant drop in vaccinations among children against serious diseases. The proportion of children worldwide who received the required three doses of vaccine against diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus fell by five percentage points to 81 percent between 2019 and 2021, according to a report released by the two UN agencies on Thursday (local time). published in New York.
The quota for the triple vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (pertussis), abbreviated to DTP, is considered a marker for immunization through vaccinations in general. Unicef chief Catherine Russell said the drop in DTP vaccination coverage means “red alert for children’s health”.
“We are witnessing the largest sustained decline in child immunization in a generation,” said Russell. “The consequences will be measured in human lives.”
According to the report, around 25 million children missed one or more doses of DTP in 2021. That was another two million more than in 2020 and six million more than in 2019. A growing number of children are therefore at risk of contracting preventable diseases, according to the report.
A growing number of children live in conflict zones where their health care is not guaranteed. Misinformation about vaccinations also circulated, discouraging parents from vaccinating their children. On the one hand, the corona pandemic is leading to delivery problems with vaccines, on the other hand, fewer vaccinations have been administered due to lockdowns and other protective measures.
Of the 25 million children who missed a full DTP vaccine last year, 18 million did not get any of the three doses that were intended. The vast majority of them live in low- and middle-income countries, a statement released alongside the report said. The most children without a single DTP vaccine were in India, Nigeria, Indonesia, Ethiopia and the Philippines.
After the many corona lockdowns in 2020, there was hope that 2021 would be a better year for children’s vaccinations. In fact, the DTP immunization was the worst since 2008. According to the UN report, this also applied to the measles vaccination.