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Nearly 40 million children dangerously susceptible to measles threats

Nearly 40 million children dangerously susceptible to measles threats

United Nations, Nov 23 (Prensa Latina) Measles vaccination coverage has steadily declined since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2021, a record high of nearly 40 million children missed a measles vaccine dose: 25 million children missed their first dose and an additional 14.7 million children missed their second dose, a joint publication by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports.

In 2021, nearly 61 million measles vaccine doses were postponed or missed due to COVID-19-related delays in immunization campaigns in 18 countries.

“The paradox of the pandemic is that while vaccines against Covid-19 were developed in record time and deployed in the largest vaccination campaign in history, routine immunization programs were badly disrupted, and millions of kids missed out on life-saving vaccinations against deadly diseases like measles,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Getting immunization programs back on track is absolutely critical. Behind every statistic in this report is a child at risk of a preventable disease.”

In 2021, there were an estimated 9 million cases and 128 000 deaths from measles worldwide. Twenty-two countries experienced large and disruptive outbreaks.

Declines in vaccine coverage, weakened measles surveillance, and continued interruptions and delays in immunization activities due to Covid-19, as well as persistent large outbreaks in 2022, mean that measles is an imminent threat in every region of the world.

The situation is serious: measles is one of the most contagious human viruses but is almost entirely preventable through vaccination. Coverage of 95% or greater of 2 doses of measles-containing vaccine is needed to create herd immunity in order to protect communities and achieve and maintain measles elimination.

The world is well under that, with only 81% of children receiving their first measles-containing vaccine dose, and only 71% of children receiving their second measles-containing vaccine dose. These are the lowest global coverage rates of the first dose of measles vaccination since 2008, although coverage varies by country.

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