Millions of children worldwide not receiving measles vaccine
April 25, 2019 -- An estimated 169 million children around the world missed out on the first dose of the measles vaccine between 2010 and 2017, according to UNICEF, amid a global surge in cases of the highly contagious disease.
As a result of greater vulnerability to the disease, more than 110,000 measles cases were reported worldwide during the first three months of 2019, representing a near 300 per cent jump from the same period last year, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) data.
In 2017, some 110,000 people, most of them children, died from measles – a 22 percent increase from the year before, UNICEF said.
The children's organisation explained that although two doses of the measles vaccine are “essential” to protect children from the disease, a lack of access, poor health systems, complacency, and in some cases a fear of vaccines, led to a drop in global coverage for the first dose to only 85 percent in 2017 – a level that has remained similar for the past decade. Global coverage for the second dose is even lower, at 67 percent.
The WHO recommends a threshold of 95 percent immunisation coverage to achieve so-called “herd immunity” – or vaccinating a significant enough portion of the population to provide protection for those who have yet to develop immunity.
Among high-income countries, the United States – currently fighting its biggest measles outbreak in almost 20 years – topped UNICEF’s list of places with the most children missing the first vaccine dose between 2010 and 2017, at more than 2.5 million.