Medical Management

Over 20 Million Children Miss Out On Measles Vaccine Annually, Creating A Pathway To Current Global Outbreaks – UNICEF

(KPL) An estimated 169 million children missed out on the first dose of the measles vaccine between 2010 and 2017, or 21.1 million children a year on average, UNICEF said on Apr 26.

In East Asia and Pacific region, nearly 28 million children in 2017 were vaccinated against measles, however, more than 2 million children missed out in the same year.

This has been the pattern every year for the past 2-3 years, making children in the region more vulnerable to measles outbreaks.

In the Lao PDR, the Ministry of Health estimates that 350,153 children missed out on the first dose between 2010 and 2017, a yearly average of 43,769 children.

Widening pockets of unvaccinated children have created a pathway to the measles outbreaks hitting several countries around the world today.

The ground for the global measles outbreaks we are witnessing today was laid years ago, said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. The measles virus will always find unvaccinated children. If we are serious about averting the spread of this dangerous but preventable disease, we need to vaccinate every child, in rich and poor countries alike.

In the first three months of 2019, more than 110,000 measles cases were reported worldwide � up nearly 300 per cent from the same period last year. An estimated 110,000 people, most of them children, died from measles in 2017, a 22 per cent increase from the year before. In the Lao PDR, the number of suspected measles cases has increased from 10 cases in 2018 to 379 cases in 2019, an epidemic affecting 10 provinces.

Two doses of the measles vaccine are essential to protect children from the disease. However, due to lack of access, poor health systems, complacency, and in some cases fear or skepticism about vaccines, the global coverage of the first dose of the measles vaccine was reported at 85 per cent in 2017, a figure that has remained relatively constant over the last decade despite population growth.

Global coverage for the second dose is much lower, at 67 per cent. The World Health Organization recommends a threshold of 95 per cent immunization coverage to achieve so-called ‘herd immunity’. In the Lao PDR the coverage of the first dose of the measles vaccine was reported at 82 per cent in 2017, also below what WHO recommends.

In high income countries, while coverage with the first dose is 94 per cent, coverage for the second dose drops to 91 per cent, according to the latest data.

The United States tops the list of high-income countries with the most children not receiving the first dose of the vaccine between 2010 and 2017, at more than 2.5 million. It is followed by France and the United Kingdom, with over 600,000 and 500,000 unvaccinated infants, respectively, during the same period.

In low- and middle-income countries, the situation is critical. In 2017, for example, Nigeria had the highest number of children under one year of age who missed out on the first dose, at nearly 4 million. It was followed by India (2.9 million), Pa

Source: Lao News Agency