Geneva (Switzerland): Over 3 million children in India missed out on their first dose of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis combined vaccine (DTP-1) in 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.
As compared with 2019, 3.5 million more children did not receive the first dose of the DPT 1 vaccine around the world, while 3 million more children missed their first measles dose. The DPT vaccine is a class of combination vaccines against three infectious diseases in humans: diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus.
India has witnessed the greatest increase in the number of children not getting DPT 1 first last year as compared to 2019, according to official data published today by the WHO and United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) said.
As many as 3,038,000 children in India did not get the first dose of DTP-1 in 2020 as compared to 1,403,000 in 2019.
“The data shows that middle-income countries now account for an increasing share of unprotected
children – that is, children missing out on at least some vaccine doses. India is experiencing a particularly large drop, with DTP-3 coverage falling from 91 per cent to 85 per cent,” the WHO said in a statement.
Around 23 million children missed out on basic vaccines through routine immunisation services in 2020 around the world as COVID-19 pandemic impacted the childhood immunisation process around the world.
Up to 17 million children did not receive a single vaccine during the year, widening already immense inequities in vaccine access.
With many resources and personnel diverted to support the COVID-19 response, there have been significant disruptions to immunisation service provision in many parts of the world.
In some countries, clinics have been closed or hours reduced, while people may have been reluctant to seek healthcare because of fear of transmission or have experienced challenges reaching services due to lockdown measures and transportation disruptions.
Most of these children live in communities affected by conflict, in under-served remote places, or in informal or slum settings where they face multiple deprivations including limited access to basic health and key social services.
“Even as countries clamour to get their hands on COVID-19 vaccines, we have gone backwards on other vaccinations, leaving children at risk from devastating but preventable diseases like measles, polio or meningitis,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
“Multiple disease outbreaks would be catastrophic for communities and health systems already battling COVID-19, making it more urgent than ever to invest in childhood vaccination and ensure every child is reached,” he added.