The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has revealed that 324,619 children did not receive any vaccinations in 2022 in Zambia, which leaves children unprotected against diseases.
Officially launching the World Immunization Week in Lusaka on Monday, UNICEF Country Representative, Penelope Campbell, expressed worry with the statistics and made an urgent call to vaccinate children.
Campbell said the impact of Covid-19 on the routine immunization programme showed that the percentage of fully immunized children nationally significantly decreased compared to the pre-Covid -19 era from 89.1 percent in 2019 to 78.6 percent in 2022.
She added that the proportion of children receiving their first dose of measles declined from 90.6 percent in 2019 to 83.1 percent in 2022.
“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,” Campbell said.
She urged government to urgently identify and reach all children, especially those who missed vaccinations during the Covid 19 pandemic.
“Immunization have saved millions of lives and protected communities from deadly disease outbreak,” emphasized Campbell.
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Ministry of Health Expanded Program on Immunization National Manager, Jacob Sakala, has emphasized for close partnership with the UN and other government agencies to ensure stronger vaccine regulation and monitoring for adverse events following immunization thereby assuring confidence in vaccines.
“The government of the Republic of Zambia, through its Ministry of Health, is committed to continue working towards improving vaccination coverage in the country, ensuring that every child, particularly the most vulnerable, have access to immunization services,” Sakala said.
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