The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned that disrupting immunization services during the coronavirus outbreak exposes more children to danger.
Speaking on Twitter, the agency urged countries to step up immunization services amid the pandemic.
UNICEF had on Saturday began the 2020 edition of World Immunization Week, and said in a statement:
“Millions of children are in danger of missing life-saving vaccines against measles, diphtheria and polio due to disruptions in immunization service as the world rushes to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
Before the coronavirus outbreak, some vaccines were out of reach for 20 million children below the age of one every year, and given the current disruptions, UNICEF warned that this could lead to disastrous health situations in 2020 and well beyond.
UNICEF Principal Adviser and Chief of Immunization, Robin Nandy, said the stakes have never been higher as COVID-19 continues to spread globally.
She disclosed that the fates of millions of young lives hang in the balance.
In a different statement, the World Health Organizational regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, also called on African countries to make provision for supplementary immunization after the pandemic is controlled.
“When COVID-19 transmission is contained, scaling up supplementary immunization will be a priority to ensure we reach communities in need, particularly those most at risk“, she said.
Moeti added that through technology transfer, vaccine production in African countries should increase while reducing the continent’s reliance on the importation of these essential products.
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