WHO warns ‘children will die’ if vaccination rates fall amid coronavirus pandemic
The World Health Organization said that children all over the world “will die” if vaccination efforts for diseases like measles and polio continue to be scaled back amid the coronavirus pandemic.
WHO General Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a stern warning issued Monday said the agency is “deeply concerned about the impact the pandemic will have on other health services, especially for children.”
“Children may be at relatively low risk from severe diseases and death from COVID-19, but can be at high risk from other diseases that can be prevented with vaccines," he told reporters during a press conference.
“The tragic reality is that children will die as a result.”
Ghebreyesus said that according to data from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, 21 poorer countries are already reporting vaccination shortages because of border closures and transportation issues. The pandemic has also forced the postponement of 14 vaccination campaigns supported by Gavi against polio, measles cholera, human papillomavirus, yellow fever and meningitis.
The top doctor also noted that many parents have recently become concerned about taking children to visit a doctor for fear of becoming infected with COVID-19.
“When vaccination coverage goes down, more outbreaks will occur, including of life-threatening diseases like polio,” he said.
“Every year, more than 116 million infants are vaccinated, or 86% of all children born globally, but there are still more than 13 million children around the world who miss out on that vaccination. We know that number will increase because of COVID-19.”