COVID-19 Led Disruption To Regular Immunisation Programme Has Caused 66% Increase In Unvaccinated Children In India: UNICEF

COVID-19 Led Disruption To Regular Immunisation Programme Has Caused 66% Increase In Unvaccinated Children In India: UNICEF

According to a data compiled by UNICEF on immunisation of children against vaccine-preventable diseases, 1.7 crore children worldwide have not received even a single vaccine during 2020 because of COVID-19 led disruptions of health services
News, Swasth India
- in News, Swasth India
COVID-19 Led Disruption To Regular Immunisation Programme Has Caused 66% Increase In Unvaccinated Children In India: UNICEFAccording to the UNICEF, India, which has the world’s largest immunization programme tops the list of countries with the highest number of unprotected children worldwide at 35 lakh
  • 37 lakh more children globally missed routine vaccines in 2020 than in 2019
  • Just 10 countries account for 62% of all under or unvaccinated children
  • Losing out on routine immunisation can endanger children’s health: UNICEF

New Delhi: As the world continues to fight against COVID-19 and mitigate its multifaceted impacts on the lives of people including children, health systems, food security, livelihood and economy, the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has highlighted another fallout of the pandemic. It has warned that the disruption in health services caused by the pandemic has derailed the routine vaccination programmes in many countries because of which over 2.3 core of the world’s children missed out on basic childhood vaccines in 2020 with India having the highest number of unvaccinated and under-vaccinated children. Due to this, children were left unprotected from various vaccine-preventable diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis among others. The data published by UNICEF along with the World Health Organisation (WHO) has highlighted that India has observed the highest decline in its immunisation rate.

Also Read: Universal Coverage Or Immunisation For All Is Still A Long Wait

India Worst Hit With Low Routine Immunisation

According to the UNICEF, India, which has the world’s largest immunisation programme tops the list of countries with the highest number of unprotected children worldwide at 35 lakh, an increase of 14 lakh compared with 2019, when the number of unprotected children was 21 lakh.

COVID-19 Led Disruption To Regular Immunisation Programme Has Caused 66% Increase In Unvaccinated Children In India: UNICEF
India, which has the world’s largest immunisation programme tops the list of countries with the highest number of unprotected children

The country also recorded the greatest increase in children not receiving the first dose of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis combined vaccine (DTP) in 2020, said UNICEF. In 2019, over 14 lakh did not receive their first dose of DTP, which jumped to over 30 lakh in 2020, shows the UNICEF data.

India is experiencing a particularly large drop, with DTP coverage falling from 91 per cent to 85 per cent, said WHO.

COVID-19 Led Disruption To Regular Immunisation Programme Has Caused 66% Increase In Unvaccinated Children In India: UNICEF
In 2019, over 14 lakh did not receive their first dose of DTP, which jumped to over 30 lakh in 2020, shows the UNICEF data

Also Read: Much Needs To Be Done On Health Front, Suggests Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey

Along with DTP, the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) which is completely funded by the Government of India provides vaccination to prevent Polio, Measles, disease by Rotavirus, a severe form of childhood Tuberculosis and Hepatitis B, Haemophilus Influenza Type B and Diarrhoea.

While talking to NDTV about the decline in the immunisation rate in India reported by UNICEF, a senior official in the National Health Mission (Immunisation) of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), who asked to remain anonymous, said that the vaccination had definitely slowed down during the three months of strict lockdown due to COVID last year but it was never completely stopped. He said,

Resources in terms of human and capital were diverted towards COVID response. ASHAs (Accredited Social Health Activist) and Anganwadi workers were required to dedicate their time and efforts towards fighting COVID. But in about one month, vaccination resumed at almost all places. The pandemic has definitely slowed down the pace though because of the social distancing and other restrictions.

On how the government plans to speed up the routine immunisation programme in order to bridge the gap and increase coverage, the official said,

The government is ramping up the routine vaccination. There are camps taking place regularly. Even in the wake of COVID, we were able to conduct a successful Polio vaccine drive where we vaccinated over 17 crore children in a single day. Vaccinating children and protecting them from life-threatening diseases is extremely important for their future and the future of the country.

Also Read: Google Doodle Says Thank You To Public Health Workers And Researchers Amid Covid-19 Crisis

Dr Aviral Roy, Consultant, Critical Care, Medica Superspeciality Hospital, Kolkata said that while it is concerning that a huge number of children in India missed out on vaccination due to COVID but the pandemic has brought with it unprecedented situations and so one can expect this. He said,

During the lockdown, the priority was to respond to the pandemic. All Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs), Anganwadi centres, hospitals, doctors were together focusing on the fight the pandemic and tackle the rising number of cases. So it is not shocking to know that there have been disruptions in other health services. It was actually expected. It is one of the fallout of medical emergencies like the ongoing COVID-19. That being said, I would like to point out that as a doctor we are very concerned about the health of the children and of their parents. While the parents must go and get themselves immunised against the coronavirus, they must also ensure that their children are properly vaccinated against vaccine-preventable disease as well.

Also Read: States Have Started Implementing Intensified Mission Indradhanush 3.0 For Kids, Pregnant Woman Not Immunised In Routine Drive

However, Richa Chintan, member, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (People’s Health Movement) said that the UNICEF data is a wake-up call that all routine vaccinations be administered as scheduled, as it is an essential health activity. She said,

There is an urgent need of restoring services. Children are most vulnerable and while we cannot immunise them against COVID-19 yet, we cannot delay protecting them from other life-threatening diseases. The policymakers and public healthcare providers must prepare strategies on an urgent basis to safely deliver routine immunisation during COVID. We have recently seen the horrors of the wave; we also know that the third wave is inevitable. Not vaccinating children against other diseases will only accumulate a more vulnerable population.

Also Read: Experts Debunk Some Common Myths About Immunisation

Widening Vaccine Inequities Worldwide

UNICEF said that the data shows the widening of already immense inequities in vaccine access. It also shows:

  • The year 2020 recorded the highest number of children who were unvaccinated or under-vaccinated in over a decade and 37 lakh more than in 2019.
  • About 1.7 crore children worldwide did not receive even a single vaccine during 2020.
  • As compared with 2019, 35 lakh more children across the world missed their first dose of DTP while 30 lakh more children missed their first measles dose.
  • Southeast Asian and Eastern Mediterranean Regions were most affected due to the disruptions in immunisation services.
  • At nearly 44 lakh, South Asia recorded the highest number of children who failed to receive any routine vaccination in the past ten years, in 2020.
  • Just 10 countries account for 62 per cent of all under or unvaccinated children globally.

Also Read: How To Safely Vaccinate Children During COVID-19 Pandemic

While commenting on the state of routine immunisation around the world amid Covid, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-general, WHO said,

Even as countries clamour to get their hands on COVID-19 vaccines, we have gone backwards on other vaccinations, leaving children at the risk from devastating but preventable diseases like Measles, Polio or Meningitis. Multiple disease outbreaks would be catastrophic for communities and health systems already battling COVID-19, making it more urgent than ever to invest in childhood vaccination and ensure every child is reached.

Emphasising the importance of vaccination, Dr Roy, said that vaccines prompt the child’s immune system to develop antibodies and added that a gap of a week or two will not have any negative impact on the child’s health if the disease is not highly prevalent in the area where the child lives. He said,

Vaccines work by imitating the infection these are meant to prevent so that the antibodies can then fight the disease itself. The vaccines timeline is usually spaced out in the time between birth and five years of age. While the parents, public healthcare providers and policymakers must make all efforts to get children vaccinated on time, a little bit of postponement because of a pandemic will not be too dangerous when the particular disease is not prevalent. A gap of a week or two or even three is ok. But do not miss the vaccine altogether and also there is no need to restart the whole process if there has been a delay.

Also Read: Entire Adult Population In India Will Be Vaccinated Against COVID-19 By December: Dr NK Arora, Head, Expert Panel On Immunisation

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene


Coronavirus has spread to 194 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 19,89,21,889 and 42,35,871 have died; 6,44,02,340 are active cases and 13,02,83,678 have recovered as on August 3, 2021 at 3:55 am.


3,17,26,507 30,549Cases
3,08,96,354 38,887Recovered
4,25,195 422Deaths
In India, there are 3,17,26,507 confirmed cases including 4,25,195 deaths. The number of active cases is 4,04,958 and 3,08,96,354 have recovered as on August 3, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths

63,15,063 4,869

78,700 3,650

61,03,325 8,429

1,33,038 90


34,25,473 13,984

1,65,834 2,057

32,42,684 15,923

16,955 118


29,08,284 1,285

24,045 123

28,47,627 1,383

36,612 25

Tamil Nadu

25,63,544 1,957

20,385 139

25,09,029 2,068

34,130 28

Andhra Pradesh

19,70,008 1,546

20,582 437

19,36,016 1,968

13,410 15

Uttar Pradesh

17,08,500 24

646 18

16,85,091 42


West Bengal

15,29,295 575

10,803 171

15,00,331 734

18,161 12


14,36,401 51

538 44

14,10,809 95



10,02,458 236

1,918 1

9,87,012 234

13,528 3


9,79,737 1,032

13,318 820

9,60,386 1,785

6,033 67


9,53,704 16

241 9

9,44,509 25



8,24,922 22

251 3

8,14,595 25


Madhya Pradesh

7,91,862 17

132 7

7,81,217 10



7,69,956 14

703 12

7,59,614 25

9,639 1


7,24,917 37

401 34

7,14,872 71



6,45,997 591

8,819 54

6,33,371 643

3,807 2


5,99,162 32

473 31

5,82,395 63



5,68,257 1,275

12,429 213

5,50,534 1,469

5,294 19


3,47,223 23

239 15

3,41,855 38



3,42,198 37

574 35

3,34,261 71

7,363 1

Jammu And Kashmir

3,21,725 118

1,254 43

3,16,090 73

4,381 2

Himachal Pradesh

2,06,369 208

1,304 75

2,01,543 132

3,522 1


1,71,295 90

1,027 16

1,67,118 72

3,150 2


1,21,059 54

944 38

1,18,320 92



99,872 541

9,814 591

88,480 1,120

1,578 12


79,026 304

3,104 12

75,167 292



65,939 350

5,843 200

58,987 537

1,109 13


61,960 6

33 3

61,116 3


Arunachal Pradesh

48,565 305

3,508 167

44,823 469

234 3


40,111 748

12,316 127

27,642 618

153 3


28,004 59

1,300 44

26,130 99

574 4


26,880 126

3,323 131

23,211 256

346 1


20,345 5

57 0

20,081 5


Dadra And Nagar Haveli


15 9

10,631 9



10,207 12

79 4

10,078 8


Andaman And Nicobar Islands


6 1

7,404 1


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