Global childhood vaccinations have fallen to a 30-year low, with Australian teenagers among those who missed vaccinations.

The UN report says that increasing misinformation and the disruption of global supply chains due to COVID-19 are responsible for the largest sustained decline in childhood vaccinations in three decades.
The proportion of children worldwide who received three doses of the DPT vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (whooping cough) fell by five percentage points between 2019 and 2021 to 81 percent, according to official data released this week by WHO and UNICEF.

This vaccine has been used as a national and international immunization coverage marker and has been available in Australia since the 1950s.

A girl is injected with CoronaVac on the first day of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign for children aged 3 and 4 at a vaccination center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

A girl is injected with CoronaVac on the first day of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign for children aged 3 and 4 at a vaccination center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Source: AP / Bruna Prado / AP

Katherine Russell, Executive Director of UNICEF, said the slide “is a signal of danger to children’s health.”

“We are witnessing the largest sustained decline in childhood immunizations in a generation. The consequences will be measured in lives,” she added.

About 25 million children missed one or more doses of DTP in 2021, up two million more than in 2020 and six million more than in 2019, putting a growing number of children at risk of preventable diseases.

The decline was due to several factors, including an increase in the number of children living in conflict zones, rising misinformation and service and supply disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and lockdowns that have limited outreach campaigns.
The pandemic “forced parents and families to choose between putting food on the table and getting their children vaccinated,” said Kate O’Brien, WHO director of immunization, vaccines and biologics.

Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and the Philippines have the highest number of children who have received a zero dose.

Vaccinations for children in Australia remain high, but vaccination rates for teenagers are declining

Vaccination rates for Australian one-year-olds, two-year-olds and five-year-olds remain stable despite the pressure of the pandemic.
Data released by the Ministry of Health show coverage of these age groups at around 94 percent.
But health experts are worried about school-age children who may have missed needed shots during school closures in the past two years.
“There are some indications that there are indications in Victoria that coverage of the HPV vaccine, which prevents certain types of cancer of the reproductive system, may be declining,” said Professor Julie Lisk from the University of Sydney School of Nursing and Midwifery.

“Last year, a study was published that showed coverage was 18% lower in 2020 than in 2019, meaning that in the state with the tightest restrictions, homeschooling definitely had an impact on teen vaccinations. “.

Australia mirrored the global trend in this age group. Globally, a quarter of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine coverage achieved in 2019 has been lost, a blow to the fight against cervical cancer.
Only 12 percent of girls are fully protected, despite the fact that the first vaccines were licensed over 15 years ago.
Professor Julie Lisk told SBS News that state health departments could correct the drop in HPV vaccination coverage this year.

“They can always catch up, the key is that states need to make sure that happens – that eighth and nineth grade kids are also offered the vaccine when the HPV vaccinating nurses come in.”

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Observers had hoped that 2021 would be a year of recovery from the 2020 lockdowns, but instead it was the worst year for global DTP coverage since 2008 amid rising rates of severe malnutrition in many parts of the world.
“The combination of a hunger crisis with a growing immunization gap threatens to set the stage for a child survival crisis,” the statement said.

First measles vaccination coverage fell to 81 percent in 2021, also the lowest level since 2008.

Professor Robert Bui is a pediatric infectious disease specialist based in Sydney. He said that thousands of children could die from preventable diseases over the next 12 months around the world.
“I think in Australia, where we are doing very well, we have to give and pay up front,” he told SBS News.
“For the 25 million children who will not receive a vaccine in 2021, this is a disaster. Many thousands of children could die from vaccine-preventable diseases.”

He urged people to step up and fund vaccines as competing factors such as famine, conflict and inflation limit developing countries’ ability to vaccinate children.