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Childhood immunization programs are a fundamental foundation of effective health system performance. The covid-19 pandemic and its accompanying disruption impeded the delivery of all elements of healthcare and vaccine programs were no exception. According to joint UNICEF and WHO figures, global coverage of doses of DTP1 and DTP3 vaccine declined by 3% in 2020 compared to 2019; for Hib3 and MCV1 the decrease was 2%.
Although global data are important, vaccine delivery is largely a concern of national health systems. Some country programs have strengthened in recent years, others have been allowed to deteriorate. Vaccination coverage has been declining for the past 5 years in many Latin American countries, and experts are concerned about the risk of re-emergence of several controlled and eradicated vaccine-preventable diseases. While India and Vietnam are experiencing a much greater burden of morbidity and mortality from these diseases, immunization coverage has steadily improved in recent years.
Key questions include:
- As health systems recalibrate in the wake of the pandemic, will childhood immunization programs receive sufficient prioritization?
- What actions need to be taken by key stakeholders in the vaccine ecosystem and the broader society to achieve WHO’s target coverage rates?
- Where is the greatest need? What learnings from dealing with covid-19 can be utilized to strengthen and improve childhood vaccination programs?
- Which countries health systems have been caught swimming naked in the pandemic, and how can these countries urgently cover up?
Director, The Vaccine Confidence Project and professor, department of infectious disease epidemiology
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK
Dr. Jaime Sepulveda
Executive Director for The Institute for Global Health Sciences
University of California San Francisco, USA
Dr. Alejandra Gaiano
Pediatrician specializing in infectious disease
Hospital Materno Infantil de San Isidro, Argentina
Dr Claudio Maierovitch Pessanha Henriques
Coordinator of Epidemiology and Health Surveillance Nucleus
Fiocruz Brasília, Brazil
Marcio Zanetti (moderator)
Country Leader - Brazil
The Economist Intelligence Unit
A presentation of Economist Impact