48 million children are not vaccinated, in part because of misinformation and political polarization.

48 million children are not vaccinated, in part because of misinformation and political polarization.

Between 2019 and 2021, at least 48 million children worldwide will not be vaccinated against diseases such as diphtheria, measles and polio. In addition, 19 million children did not receive all the necessary injections during the same period. This is what UNICEF released on Thursday a report announce. According to the United Nations, the rise in the number of unvaccinated children is partly due to declining faith in the usefulness of vaccines, and partly due to an increase in misinformation, mistrust of health experts, and political polarization.

UNICEF conducted research in 55 countries. Only in China, India and Mexico – three of the most populous countries in the world – has confidence in the importance of vaccines remained the same or has this perception grown. In Japan, South Korea, Ghana and Senegal, among other countries, another third thought that vaccinating children was pointless. People under the age of 35 are less likely to see the benefit of vaccinations than those over that age. These are more often women than men. UNICEF does not explain the reasons for these differences.

A side note to the study is that in about half of the countries surveyed, more than 80 percent still trust the benefit of vaccinations for children — despite the decline. The exact impact of decreased trust in vaccines is also not clear. However, UNICEF warns of a further deterioration in this confidence. Despite the “many lives” scientists have saved by developing vaccines against the coronavirus, “misinformation about all kinds of vaccines has been as pervasive as the virus itself,” says Kathryn Russell, UNICEF director. Russell fears this trend will continue, even with routine immunizations.

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DTP vaccines are much lower

UNICEF did not report the number of unvaccinated children in a similar period to 2019, so the absolute increase is not clear. It turned out to be one previous search That in 2021, at least 25 million children will not receive the DTP vaccine, while in 2019 this figure was still 19 million. It turned out to be the strongest increase in unvaccinated children in thirty years. Worldwide population growth must be taken into account. UNICEF also cited an increase in misinformation as a reason. The increase in the number of children in conflict areas and the disruption of vaccine supplies, especially due to the pandemic, also had an impact on the increase in the number of unvaccinated children.

UNICEF now adds that vaccine delivery in rural areas and slums in poor countries remains complex. This is due in part to the generally limited health care in those countries. One in five children in the mentioned areas has not been vaccinated. In rich countries, this is one in twenty children.

The consequences of the increase in the number of unvaccinated children are already visible. For example, the number of children diagnosed with polio increased eightfold between 2019 and 2021 compared to the previous three years. In addition, the number of children infected with measles will double in 2022.

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