As Indonesia’s catch-up immunization campaign ends, urgent efforts still needed to address backslide in childhood vaccinations – UNICEF & WHO
JAKARTA, 5 October 2022 – At the close of Indonesia’s nationwide catch-up immunization campaign last week, UNICEF and WHO are calling for continued urgency to address the country’s backslide in childhood vaccinations.
The nationwide catch-up immunization campaign (known locally as BIAN) aimed to vaccinate some 36.5 million children through one dose of measles-rubella immunization for children under age 15 in all provinces except Bali and Yogyakarta, where immunization rates have already met national targets. It also aimed to provide routine immunization for children under age five in all 34 provinces.
The campaign closed with mixed results last week, having reached close to 70 per cent of the target for measles and rubella immunization, 54 per cent for DPT-HB-Hib and less than 50 per cent for polio.
“The results of this major undertaking to tackle childhood immunization are encouraging,” said UNICEF Representative Maniza Zaman. “Yet, the gap in coverage means that millions of children are still missing out on lifesaving protection. Reversing the decline caused by the pandemic will take even more effort and continued investment to avert the worst-case scenario for children’s health.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has been the main driver for the decline in childhood immunization in Indonesia, causing supply-chain disruptions and reduced availability of health personnel. Vaccine hesitancy among parents and caregivers – particularly with multiple injections required for routine vaccines – have also affected vaccine acceptance, along with vaccine misinformation and hoaxes.
Children who have received the first measles and rubella vaccinations fell from 95 per cent in 2019 to 87 per cent in 2021. The number of ‘zero-dose’ children – who did not receive a single dose of the vaccine against diphtheria pertussis and tetanus (DPT) – rose significantly from 10 per cent in 2019 to 26 per cent during the same period. This put children at risk of contracting a range of preventable diseases.
“In the South-East Asia Region of WHO, Indonesia is one of the few countries that show large increases in the number of children without any doses of vaccination over the last few years,” said WHO Representative to Indonesia, Dr N. Paranietharan. “The ongoing BIAN activities in Indonesia are highly commendable, however significant additional efforts are required to accelerate and catch up with missed children, and sustain high level of immunization coverage.”
In the wake of COVID-19, the world is experiencing its largest sustained decline in childhood vaccinations in about 30 years. Globally, in 2021 alone, 25 million children missed out on one or more doses of the vaccine against DPT through routine immunization. The vast majority of these children live in India, Nigeria, Indonesia, Ethiopia and the Philippines.
As the BIAN campaign comes to a close in Indonesia, UNICEF and WHO call for:
- Continued efforts to increase routine immunization at national and sub-national levels. This includes rolling out strategies to target ‘zero-dose’ children, addressing barriers to vaccine uptake and monitoring and evaluating immunization services.
- Support from local governments – particularly governors, bupatis and mayors – to help parents and caregivers understand the benefits of immunization and encourage them to visit their closest posyandu or clinic to ensure their children complete their full immunization schedule.
- Collaboration between health authorities, faith-based organizations, communities and mass media to prevent the spread of vaccine misinformation and hoaxes.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.