MILLIONS of children are likely to miss out on immunisation against vaccine due to social distancing
The Measles & Rubella Initiative (M&RI) is backed by the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN children’s fund UNICEF and others.
The group have said that children in 37 countries are potentially at risk because of the delayed procedures.
They said in a statement: “If the difficult choice to pause vaccination is made due to the spread of COVID-19, we urge leaders to intensify efforts to track unvaccinated children, so that the most vulnerable populations can be provided with measles vaccines as soon as it becomes possible to do so.
“While we know there will be many demands on health systems and frontline workers during and beyond the threat of COVID-19, delivering all immunisation services, including measles vaccines, is essential to saving lives.”
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The news comes as coronavirus cases around the world approach 2 million, with 119,699 losing their lives to the disease.
A surge in measles would pose an additional global outbreak and health threat.
According to the WHO, 2018 saw nearly 10 million infected from the disease.
It labeled the measles outbreak as “an outrage”, which killed 140,000.
The M&RI group said it supports the need to protect communities and health workers from COVID-19, but warned that this should not mean that children permanently miss out.
They said: “Together, more than 117 million children in 37 countries, many of whom live in regions with ongoing measles outbreaks, could be impacted by the suspension of scheduled immunization activities.
“Children younger than 12 months of age are more likely to die from measles complications, and if the circulation of measles virus is not stopped, their risk of exposure to measles will increase daily.
“Urgent efforts must be taken now … to prepare to close the immunity gaps that the measles virus will exploit.”