COVID-19 is widening Africa’s immunization gaps

Africa has the greatest number of unvaccinated children in the world but stats from the World Health Organization (WHO) reveal that the COVID-19 epidemic disrupted health services throughout Africa, resulting in a roughly 10% increase in missed vaccines, compared to the previous year. In 2020, about 7.7 million African children, which makes up 45% of the world, would have missed out on critical first doses of Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Measles, and Polio vaccinations. Ethiopia, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo are among the top 10 nations in the world for unvaccinated children in 2020 for the first dose of Diphtheria- Tetanus-Pertussis (DTP-1) and Measles. Due to disruptions of COVID, 3.7 million more children are expected to miss out on routine immunization. It is estimated that in Africa, 1.7 million children would not have received a third dose of the DTP vaccine.

The immunization agenda aims to achieve 90 percent coverage of all critical children immunizations in the following nine years, however, the vaccination rates are far below expected. Due to low regular vaccine coverage and delay, there were severe measles outbreaks in eight African nations between January 2020 and April 2021, with tens of thousands of children affected. The quality of measles monitoring in Africa plummeted to its lowest level in seven years by 2020, with just 11 nations reaching their targets.

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