As COVID-19 continues to spread globally, over 117 million children in 37 countries may miss out on receiving the life-saving measles vaccine.
In many places, children are missing on critical vaccines due to recommendations and requirements around physical distancing and isolation, or due to reduced access to overstretched health services.
These circumstances are putting children, especially the most vulnerable, at risk of outbreaks of other diseases such as measles.
“Immunization is vital now, more than ever,” said Dr Madhulika Jonathan, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Assam.
“But we must balance its critical importance with the fact that we are facing a very serious and deadly health crisis,” she added.
“And as part of that crisis, the government has been prioritizing the most urgent needs first, including preventing further spread of COVID-19,” she further says.
UNICEF advises parents to get children vaccinated as soon as the COVID-19 outbreak is brought under control and routine services resume.
While essential doses for institutional deliveries have continued uninterrupted in the state during the lockdown, Assam is among the few states that resumed routine immunization last week at the sub-centre level.
This has been done under strict guidelines of personal hygiene, physical distancing and mask usage.
This World Immunization Week, UNICEF hopes that the immunization programme resumes in a normal way in most districts of Assam, barring areas classified as ‘red and containment zones’.
“There is intensive planning underway by the government to ensure ‘catch-up’ vaccinations as soon as the restrictions are eased,” added Dr Jonathan.