Measles warning: Coronavirus to bring resurgence – 117million children at risk

Vaccination programmes are being postponed as a result of the coronavirus lockdown putting 117 million children in 37 countries at risk, according to Unicef. Doctors are encouraging Britons to make sure they still get their routine jabs during the coronavirus outbreak after concerns immunisations will drop. Unicef Head of Policy Liam Sollis explained coronavirus has a wide range of secondary impacts on children.

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Speaking to BBC News, Mr Sollis said: “We’re pretty worried. The direct impacts of the coronavirus have been relatively less on children than they have been on other age groups.

“But there is a range of secondary impacts of the disease that are lying in wait for children.

“Families are having limited access to health services around the world and vaccine schemes are being restricted.”

Public Health England (PHE) has urged people to maintain their vaccinations throughout the pandemic after the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned more than 100 million children could miss out on measles injections due to Covid-19.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisations at PHE said: “The national immunisation programme is highly successful in preventing serious and sometimes life-threatening diseases, such as pneumonia, meningitis, whooping cough, diphtheria and measles.

“During this time, it is important to maintain the best possible vaccine uptake to prevent a resurgence of these infections.”

Research from the WHO suggests that as many as 117 million children across the globe could be missing out on measles jabs due to the outbreak.

The health body says that immunisation programmes have already been paused in 24 countries, and they may not take place in another 13 nations who have them planned for later in the year.

It added: “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 that would otherwise be lost to vaccine-preventable diseases.”

The WHO are now calling on governments to communicate the importance of measles vaccines and support the supply chains for the medicine, “and help assure a healthy life for every child especially in this challenging time”.

More than 140,000 people were killed by measles in 2018, the majority children and babies, according to the WHO.


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The viral disease is highly contagious but can be prevented by mass immunisation, which would normally mean babies and children being vaccinated as part of routine health services.

With the fight against COVID-19 in most countries focused on keeping health workers safe from infection and imposing strict social distancing measures, the WHO has recommended that governments temporarily pause preventive immunisation campaigns, such as those against measles, where there is no active outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease.

In many parts of Africa, medical aid projects that might normally include measles and other vaccine campaigns have stalled as countries have closed their borders and limited routine health services due to the pandemic.

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.

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