Vietnam was listed among the top 20 countries worldwide with the largest number of zero-dose children, seeing more than 187,300 kids under one year old fail to receive any vaccinations in 2021, according to a report on immunization during the COVID-19 pandemic released by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) on Thursday.
Among 67 million children worldwide missing out on vaccinations between 2019 and 2021, Vietnam accounted for nearly 250,000 children.
Vaccination coverage levels decreased in 112 countries, including Vietnam, UNICEF warned in its new report.
In Vietnam, data showed that the prevalence of zero-dose children in urban areas was almost 1.5 times higher that of those in rural areas.
Meanwhile, the prevalence in the poorest households was almost double that in the wealthiest.
“The pandemic interrupted childhood vaccination almost everywhere, including in Vietnam, especially due to intense demands on health systems, the diversion of immunization resources to COVID-19 vaccination, health worker shortages and stay-at-home measures," said Lesley Miller, UNICEF deputy representative in Vietnam.
"Added to this is a current delay in procurement of vaccines.
“We are deeply concerned about the possibility of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases -- measles in particular.
“Children born just before or during the pandemic are now moving past the age when they would normally be vaccinated, underscoring the need for urgent action to catch up on those who were missed and prevent deadly disease outbreaks."
To address this child survival crisis, UNICEF is calling on governments to double down on their commitment to increase financing for immunization and to work with stakeholders to unlock available resources, to urgently implement and accelerate catch-up vaccination efforts to protect children and prevent disease outbreaks.
The report is urging governments to urgently identify and reach all children, especially those who missed vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic, strengthen demand for vaccines, prioritize funding to immunization services and primary healthcare, and build resilient health systems.
“Vietnam’s successful experience in its mass immunization campaign against COVID-19 laid a good foundation for the country to immediately address the current delays in procurement of vaccines and fast-track catch-up for children who have missed out on routine immunization," said Miller.
“Routine immunization and strong health systems are our best shot at preventing future pandemics, unnecessary deaths and suffering.”