This article discusses how millions of children globally will miss out on measles vaccinations due to immunization programs being suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is especially problematic in poor countries, where health systems often broken and underfunded, making it near impossible to deliver vaccines to people who need them. A recent viral outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has killed more than 6,500 children – illustrating why measles will keep flaring up despite efforts to control it. The authors argue that the situation will only worsen with the COVID-19 pandemic, as more than 20 countries have already suspended measles vaccination campaigns as healthcare workers scramble to deal with coronavirus.
The authors stress that while it is important to protect vulnerable populations from the spread of COVID-19, limiting measles-immunization activities may create “dangerous immunity gaps” and that countries must be able to resume their measles-control campaigns quickly after the pandemic subsides.