A global campaign to reach children who have missed out on vaccines.
Millions of children globally missed out on routine vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, previously controlled diseases like measles and polio have re-emerged.
Now’s the time to catch these children up on their missed vaccines, and #BuildBackImmunity to protect them, their families and their communities.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we witnessed the largest sustained decline in rates of childhood vaccinations in a generation.
Nearly 67 million children missed out on the routine vaccines that keep them safe from deadly disease during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This backsliding happened because routine immunization programmes were unable to reach as many children as before. Health services were disrupted, clinics were closed, and imports and exports of vials, syringes and other medical supplies were disrupted. Meanwhile, families were on lockdown and unable to travel easily, and money and health staff were prioritized for the COVID-19 response.
There is a solution. Large scale catch-up vaccination campaigns are an immediate solution to protect the children that missed out on their doses in the past few years.
This is an important first step in helping communities and their health systems recover from the shock of the pandemic. Vaccines protect families and communities – all of us – from disease outbreaks that can pass national borders, overwhelm health systems and cripple our economies and societies, just like we saw during the COVID-19 pandemic.
UNICEF’s call to action
Countries with high numbers of children that missed out on some or all their routine vaccinations during the pandemic must repurpose funds and restore immunity.
- Repurpose funds. Money left-over from the COVID-19 response remains in national, regional and global pots of money. Those funds should be urgently repurposed and channelled towards routine immunization activities, starting in the countries that have the highest numbers of children that missed out on vaccines.
- Restore immunity. Governments should prioritize and commit to reaching missed children with catch-up campaigns, in order to restore their immunity, end preventable child deaths and avert more disease outbreaks. This is an important first step in what should be a long-term plan to recover vaccination efforts post-pandemic, and strengthen primary health care.
We’re beginning this global advocacy campaign on immunization with the launch of UNICEF’s flagship report: “State of the World’s Children – for every child, vaccination”.
The launch of the report will be followed with a series of sustained and coordinated global, regional, and national initiatives, calling on governments to prioritize catch-up campaigns and allocate financial resources to support them.
Vaccines remain one of humanity’s most remarkable success stories - eliminating entire illnesses and saving countless lives. In the past three decades, they’ve been vital in the effort to reduce the mortality rate of children under 5. Through a sustained and committed effort, we can succeed again. It’s time for governments to re-commit to vaccines. It’s time to #BuildBackImmunity.