About 40 million children around the world missed out on measles vaccinations in 2021, according to a new report Wednesday that found vaccinations have failed to resume due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The study, which was published jointly by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said that this reduction is a major setback in the eradication of this deadly disease.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted that despite the fact that a vaccine against COVID-19 was developed and deployed in a timely manner, vaccination programs were severely affected, leaving millions at risk.
“Recovery of vaccination programs in a very important way. Behind all the statistics in this report there is a child who is at risk of preventable diseases,” he said in his statement.
According to the report, 25 million children missed their first dose while 14.7 million missed their second.
Measles can be prevented through vaccination.
But because it is so contagious, about 95 percent of the population needs two or more doses of the vaccine to develop herd immunity to eradicate it.
In 2021, only 81 percent of children worldwide received their first dose and 71 percent received their second.
It was the lowest global first rate since 2008.
The five countries with the highest number of infants who did not receive their first dose were Nigeria, India, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, and Indonesia.
No WHO region has been able to eradicate measles, and the virus spreads rapidly across borders.
Since 2016, ten countries that have eradicated measles have experienced epidemics and re-established transmission.
Measles is characterized by high fever and rashes – although part of what makes it so dangerous is that it can be contagious for days before the rash appears.
Complications can include pneumonia and inflammation of the brain, which can lead to permanent disability.
Between 1 and 3 in every 1,000 children die from respiratory and neurological diseases
© Agence France-Presse