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The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in stay-at-home orders putting children at risk of contracting measles, polio and diphtheria, according to a report released Friday by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Childhood immunization practices in at least 68 countries have been ruled out due to the unprecedented spread of COVID-19 worldwide, making children less vulnerable.
More than half of the 129 counties, where immunization data is available, reported moderate, severe or total suspensions of vaccines in March and April.
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“Vaccination is one of the most powerful and important preventive measures in the history of public health,”; said Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Interruption of immunization programs from the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to leave several decades of development against vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles.”
WHO reports that the reasons for reduced vaccination rates vary. Some parents are afraid to leave home because of coronavirus-related travel restrictions, while a lack of information about the importance of vaccination remains a problem in some areas.
Health workers are less available because of COVID-19 restrictions.
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Sabin Vaccine Institute, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance also contributed to the report.
Experts worry that vaccination rates around the world, which have been on the rise since the 1970s, are now under threat.
“Many children in more countries are now protected against more preventable vaccine diseases than at any time in history,” said Gavi’s CEO Dr. Seth Berkley. “Due to COVID-19 this immense development is under threat.”
UNICEF also reported delays in vaccine deliveries due to coronavirus restrictions and is now “appealing to governments, the private sector, the airline industry, and others, to free up freight space at affordable cost for life-saving vaccines. “
Experts say children need to receive their vaccines by age 2.
And in the case of polio, 90 percent of the population needs to be vaccinated to get rid of the disease.
Polio is making a comeback in some parts of the world, with more than a dozen African countries reporting polio outbreaks this year.
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“We will not let the fight against a disease come at the expense of long-term development in our fight against other diseases,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.
“We have effective vaccines against measles, polio and cholera,” while the circumstances may require us to temporarily pause some vaccination efforts, these immunizations should be restarted as soon as possible. sooner or later we risk exchanging one fatal outbreak for another. “
The Associated Press contributed to this report.