'A dangerous stagnation in vaccination rates is putting children at risk of preventable diseases around the world, the UN children’s agency has warned, blaming conflict, inequality and complacency.
One in 10 children, totalling 20 million globally, missed out on basic immunisation against the life-threatening infections of measles, diphtheria and tetanus last year, says Unicef.
Since 2010, vaccination coverage with three doses of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP3) and one dose of the measles vaccine has stalled at about 86% globally. It needs to be at 95% to prevent outbreaks.
Most unvaccinated children live in the poorest countries or in nations riven by conflict. But in the affluent world, complacency about the childhood diseases which have slipped from view and suspicion of vaccines have led to falls in immunisation coverage and deaths and damage from measles.
Unicef’s data shows that almost 350,000 measles cases were reported globally last year, more than doubling from 2017. Countries with violent conflicts such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia had serious outbreaks, but the country with the highest incidence of measles was Ukraine, where vaccination rates slumped to 54% in 2010 and were low for several years before recovering. Vaccine shortages played a part, but so did mistrust of doctors and credence in the theories of anti-vaxxers.
“Measles is a real-time indicator of where we have more work to do to fight preventable diseases,” said Henrietta Fore, Unicef’s executive director. “Because measles is so contagious, an outbreak points to communities that are missing out on vaccines due to access, costs or, in some places, complacency. We have to exhaust every effort to immunise every child.”'
Read more: Stall in vaccination rates putting children at risk, says Unicef
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