Decline in routine vaccination for children during Covid times highest in India
While the world is focusing on expanding and scaling up Covid-19 vaccination, routine vaccination among children has seen a universal decline, according to a joint reporting mechanism developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund or UNICEF. The decline, which was the sharpest in India, was most pronounced in the second quarter of 2020, the data said.
Dr Basavraj Katarki, surveillance medical officer of WHO said in Darbhanga on Saturday that the decline in regular vaccination among children was caused due to the ripple effect of Covid-19 pandemic, imposition of lockdown, migration of people besides a decline in healthcare facilities.
Addressing a workshop on Vaccination and Surveillance during Corona pandemic, held in paediatric department of Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital (DMCH), Dr Katarki said WHO and UNICEF National Immunization Coverage (WUENIC) estimates of national immunization coverage has shown major backsliding on childhood vaccination. WUENIC is a joint WHO and UNICEF forum for estimating global infant immunisation coverage.
Apart from above stated reasons, preferential treatment of Corona and reduction in the number of ANMs (auxiliary nursing midwives) were the key factors for the slide in regular vaccination, he added.
“As of now, with the relaxation in the lockdown, the schedule of routine immunisation has to be stepped up to make up for the drop in vaccination among children and give them a safe childhood,” Dr Katarki asserted.
“India is experiencing a particularly large drop, with DTP (diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus) coverage falling from 91% to 85% ,” said Dr Om Prakash, medical officer in the paediatric department.
Emphasising on the role of surveillance, he said it is a kind of trap for diseases and its outcome helps in detecting spread of disease in the community.
DMCH principal Dr KN Mishra said that surveillance work was largely disrupted due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic which resulted in lesser number of other patients visiting hospital since a large chunk of the health system was fully focussed on corona related treatments.