The global health community received a much-needed boost with the announcement that 4 million more children were reached by immunization services in 2022 than in 2021. According to new data from the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, efforts to counteract the decline in immunizations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are showing positive results.
However, the task of catching up remains a challenge. In 2022, there were still 20.5 million children who missed out on key vaccines delivered through routine services. This number, while showing improvement from the 24.4 million reported in 2021, still surpasses the 18.4 million from the pre-pandemic year of 2019.
There has been a decline in the number of zero-dose children – those who didn’t receive a single dose of the Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (DTP) vaccine – from 18.1 million in 2021 to 14.3 million in 2022. Nonetheless, this is still higher than the 12.9 million reported in 2019.
The recovery in global immunization has been far from uniform. Countries with larger economies, like India and Indonesia, have made significant strides, whereas most low-income countries continue to struggle, especially in the area of measles vaccination.
Despite these challenges, organizations like WHO, UNICEF, Gavi, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and other IA2030 partners have teamed up to launch ‘The Big Catch-Up’, a global initiative aimed at boosting global immunization coverage. As the world slowly emerges from the shadow of the pandemic, these efforts bring hope for a future where no child is left behind.