The Covid-19 pandemic caused major disruption in the administration of healthcare services in many countries across the globe. One of the many repercussions of the pandemic on healthcare was the major delay in the routine vaccinations of children. According to the data released by the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), 23 million children missed out on basic vaccines administered in their routine vaccination schedules in the year 2020. Moreover, the WHO report also states that approximately 80 million children under the age of 1 live in the countries where the regular child vaccination schedules have been disturbed by the pandemic. This unanticipated delay has put millions of children at risk of vaccine-preventable diseases such as Diphtheria, Measles, Polio, Hepatitis A & B, and so forth. 

Vaccines are very crucial for the health and well-being of children. Children have a developing immune system and vaccines help them in building immunity against potentially life-threatening illnesses. They assist in protecting children from diseases including measles, Diphtheria, mumps, whooping cough, Polio, Flu, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Tetanus, and many more. Vaccines are one of the most successful inventions in the field of medicine which have helped in preventing millions of deaths to date. For example, vaccine campaigns aided in the complete eradication of the smallpox virus in 1980, one of the history’s deadliest viruses believed to have caused about 300 million deaths since 1900 alone. Immunization currently saves 3.5 to 5 million deaths every year from these diseases, as reported by WHO. Vaccines are safe and efficacious in halting the spread of dangerous diseases in the community by helping children to develop natural immunity to fight these diseases, thereby, enabling them to live a longer and healthier life. Child Immunization Schedules contain details about the list of vaccines and when they should be administered to children in order to safeguard them against vaccine-preventable diseases. 

In spite of these numerous strides, the rates of immunization have dropped since the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic due to different reasons. Many parents have been unwilling to bring their kids to the pediatricians’ office. During the lockdown, the routine childhood immunization schedule faced disturbance which put the health of millions of infants and young children in jeopardy. Due to the fear of possibly catching the virus, people were staying indoors as much as possible and also refraining from bringing their children out of their homes to shield them from the hazardous virus. Moreover, uncertainty about the spread of the virus, fear of catching the infection, and lack of complete information also played a role in parents’ decision to miss or delay their children’s routine vaccination. Such delays in immunization not only endanger the health of children under 5 years of age as their immune defenses have not been fully developed especially the infants under the age of 1. Not only the young children are at risk but this may also endanger the lives of the elderly and other immunocompromised family members such as those suffering from a chronic illness as their ability to fight off infections is very low. 

It can also give rise to an outbreak of vaccine-preventable diseases in the community which may result in increased deaths and despair in the community. For example, the pandemic-related disruptions in the routine child vaccination procedures, among other factors, contributed to an increase in the measles cases reported globally. According to the statistics released by WHO, “Almost 17,338 measles cases were reported worldwide in January and February 2022, compared to 9665 during the first two months of 2021.” Measles is a viral infection that spreads very quickly and can be dangerous for small children as it affects the strength of their immune system making them vulnerable to other diseases. But it can be easily preventable by administering a vaccine. This shows how a simple delay in the regular vaccination procedure of children can have serious consequences for both the children and the community making them more susceptible to Vaccine-preventable diseases. Therefore, maintaining and following the child vaccination schedule is very crucial for the prevention of disease outbreaks and for maintaining the health and well-being of the entire community.

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It is necessary for parents to ensure that they take their children to the pediatrician for getting the regular vaccination as suggested by the doctor. Even a temporary delay in vaccinations can prove fatal to the health of the child. The government must empower the healthcare workers to trace the children whose vaccinations have been missed or delayed and to administer catch-up vaccines to them while following safety protocols in order to ensure the efficiency of the routine immunization schedule. The parents must be made aware of the importance of vaccines for maintaining their child’s immunity against various diseases, the provision of catch-up vaccines, and the possible consequences of missing or delaying the vaccinations. One thing the pandemic taught is that vaccines are an essential tool in preventing disease outbreaks and ensuring the safety of young children and the community as a whole. 

"Vaccines are the most cost-effective health care interventions there are. A dollar spent on a childhood vaccination not only helps save a life but greatly reduces spending on future healthcare."

Ezekiel Emanuel, American Medical Doctor

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Image Source: Illinois Public Health Association (


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