Record Number of Children Missing Measles Vaccine: Global Report

Record Number of Children Missing Measles Vaccine: Global Report


A record high of nearly 40 million children around the world missed a measles vaccine dose in 2021, according to a new report Wednesday, which found vaccination levels had not recovered from the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The study, published jointly by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says the decline was a major setback in eradicating the deadly disease.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted the irony in the fact that while vaccines against Covid were being developed and deployed in record time, routine vaccination programs were severely disrupted, putting millions at risk.

“It is absolutely critical to get immunization programs back on track. Behind every statistic in this report is a child at risk of a preventable disease,” he said in a statement.

According to the report, 25 million children missed their first dose, while 14.7 million missed their second.

Measles is almost entirely preventable through vaccination.

But because it is so contagious, an estimated 95 percent of a population must be vaccinated with two or more doses to create herd immunity in order to achieve and maintain elimination.

In 2021, only 81 percent of children worldwide received their first dose and 71 percent received their second dose.

It was the lowest global first-dose coverage rate since 2008.

The five countries with the most infants who missed their first dose were Nigeria, India, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia and Indonesia.

No WHO region has achieved and sustained measles elimination, and the virus can spread rapidly across borders.

Since 2016, 10 countries that had previously eradicated measles have had outbreaks and retransmission.

Measles is characterized by a high fever and a telltale rash — 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 brain swelling, which can lead to permanent disability.

Between 1 and 3 children in every thousand die from respiratory and neurological complications.

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