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UN warns of concerning drop in child vaccinations due to COVID-19

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Since the start of the pandemic, the likelihood a child born today will have all recommended vaccines by the age of five is less than 20 per cent.

The United Nations has warned about an alarming decline in childhood vaccinations because of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that the likelihood a child born today will have all recommended vaccines by the age of five is less than 20 per cent.

Most of the 82 countries surveyed in May reported vaccination campaigns being disrupted because of coronavirus, according to the study carried out by UNICEF, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Gavi, a public-private partnership started by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that buys vaccines for about 60 per cent of the world's children.

That survey found more than 30 measles campaigns around the world have been, or are at risk of being halted, a move likely to worsen outbreaks of the highly contagious disease.

"The avoidable suffering and death caused by children missing out on routine immunizations could be far greater than COVID-19 itself," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Even before the pandemic hit, 14 million children around the world already weren't receiving vaccinations, most of them in Africa.

In South America, vaccination rates already have plummeted over the past decade in Brazil, Bolivia, Haiti and Venezuela.

READ MORE: What we do and don't know about COVID-19 after seven months

Now it has become harder for health workers to give vaccines because many have been redirected toward the pandemic response. In other areas, health workers are having more difficulty because of movement restrictions or lack of protective equipment.

Even when vaccines are still available, many parents are fearful of taking their children to health centres because of the virus.

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"COVID-19 has made previously routine vaccination a daunting challenge," UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said.

"We must prevent a further deterioration in vaccine coverage and urgently resume vaccination programs before children's lives are threatened by other diseases.

"We cannot trade one health crisis for another."

Source: 9News

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