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AFP
March 27, 2020

Coronavirus forcing parents to skip kids’ vaccinations: Unicef

World

AFP
March 27, 2020

KABUL: The novel coronavirus pandemic that has forced billions of people across the globe to stay home is making parents skip routine immunisations for their kids, the United Nations children´s agency Unicef warned Thursday.

The phenomenon is being aggravated by overburdened health services where medical workers are being diverted from giving vaccines to focus on the COVID-19 response. Some governments might even have to postpone mass immunisation campaigns as a way of slowing the disease´s spread, Unicef said.

The agency's executive director Henrietta Fore said the requirement for people to stay home and observe social distancing was leading parents to "make the difficult decision to defer routine immunisation".

Of particular concern are impoverished and war-torn countries battling measles, cholera or polio outbreaks, such as Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, the Philippines, Syria and South Sudan.

"At a time like this, these countries can ill-afford to face additional outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases," Fore said in a statement. "Medical goods are in short supply and supply chains are under historic strain due to transport disruptions. Flight cancellations and trade restrictions by countries have severely constrained access to essential medicines, including vaccines."

Governments may in future need to postpone preventive mass vaccination campaigns -- where people group together to receive inoculations -- to ensure these do not contribute to the spread of COVID-19, Fore said.