The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed vaccination rates for the highly contagious disease to their lowest levels since 2008.
There is an “imminent risk” of measles spreading to different parts of the world after the COVID-19 pandemic caused many children to miss their routine vaccinations, warned the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Is.
Millions of children are now vulnerable to measles, one of the world’s most contagious diseases, public health agencies said in a joint report Wednesday.
The disease is almost completely preventable through vaccination, but at least 95 percent vaccination is necessary to prevent outbreaks.
The report states that around 40 million children may not receive their dose of the measles vaccine in 2021 due to the difficulties created by the COVID pandemic.
In addition to ongoing outbreaks in more than 20 countries, continued declines in vaccination, weak disease surveillance and delays in response plans due to COVID-19 mean that “measles is an imminent threat in every region of the world”, it warned.
Officials said there could be about 9 million measles infections and 128,000 deaths worldwide in 2021.
WHO and the CDC reported that only about 81 percent of children received their first dose of measles vaccine, while 71 percent received their second dose, marking the lowest global coverage rate of the first measles dose since 2008 .
“The record number of children who are under-immunized and susceptible to measles suggests that the vaccination system has been deeply damaged during the COVID-19 pandemic,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.
Measles is mostly spread by direct contact or through the air and causes symptoms fever, muscle aches, and skin rash on the face and upper neck, Most measles-related deaths are due to complications including brain swelling and dehydration. The WHO says serious complications are most serious in children under the age of five and adults over the age of 30.
While measles cases have not increased dramatically compared to previous years, now is the time to act, WHO measles chief Patrick O’Connor told Reuters news agency.
“We are at a crossroads,” he said. “The 12-24 months trying to get it down is going to be very challenging.”
More than 95 percent of measles deaths occur in developing countries, mostly in Africa and Asia. There is no specific treatment for the disease, but a two-dose vaccine against the virus is about 97 percent effective in preventing severe illness and death.
In July, the United Nations said that 25 million children were missed routine vaccinations Mainly against diseases including diphtheria, as the coronavirus pandemic disrupted routine health services or fueled vaccine misinformation.