February 3, 2023

‘Perfect storm’ of disease ahead with vaccines delayed and measles cases up, WHO and UNICEF say

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The World Health Organization and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund have warned of an increased risk of measles outbreaks, with cases worldwide increasing by about 80% in 2022 compared to 2021.

The organizations said in a news release on Wednesday that “approximately 17,338 cases of measles were reported worldwide in January and February 2022, compared to 9,665 in the first two months of 2021. and the eastern Mediterranean region.”

“Infectious disease barriers, growing inequalities in vaccine access, and deviating resources from routine immunizations are leaving many children without protection against measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases,” the organizations said. “As cities and countries relax Covid,” the organizations added. -19 epidemic restrictions, increased chances of measles.

“It’s encouraging that people in many communities are beginning to feel safe enough to return to more social activities with COVID-19. “It’s the best way to spread the disease,” said Catherine Russell, UNICEF’s executive director.

Twenty-three million children will be deprived of childhood immunizations in 2020, the organizations said. Recent CoVID-19 epidemics and conflicts in Ukraine, Ethiopia, Somalia and Afghanistan have hampered childhood vaccination campaigns.

The organizations said that as of April 1, “57 vaccine-preventing disease campaigns in 43 countries, which were supposed to begin after the outbreak of the epidemic, have been postponed, affecting 203 million people, most of them.” There are more children. ” “Of these, 19 are measles campaigns, which put 73 million children at risk for measles because they are not vaccinated.”

According to the WHO and UNICEF, “95% or more coverage with two doses of safe and effective measles vaccine can prevent measles.” In the five countries with the highest number of cases last year, coverage of the first dose was less than 70% in 2020.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data last week that showed. In the 2020-2021 academic year, measles vaccinations among kindergarten students fell by 93.6%.

“We are concerned that the lack of routine immunizations could put children at risk for preventable diseases such as measles and whooping cough, which are highly contagious and can be very serious, especially for infants and young children.” Dr. Shannon Stokley, Deputy Director of the CDC’s Immunization Services Division, said the release of vaccination data.

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