As the coronavirus continues to spread across the world, the impact COVID-19 has had on health services has resulted in a worrying decline in the number of children receiving life-saving vaccinations.
The latest data on vaccine coverage published by WHO and UNICEF for 2019 shows that previous improvements such as the expansion of the HPV vaccine to 106 countries could now be in danger of lapsing.
HPV vaccination prevents infection with the human papillomavirus virus that causes cervical cancer – one of the most preventable forms of cancer. With the coronavirus pandemic, lockdown measures and social distancing guidelines affecting nearly every country, HPV vaccination programmes have largely been put on hold.
“These developments are highly concerning. Immunisation programmes are not only critical for protecting the health of children and young people, they are also a key opportunity to provide information and support to families with otherwise poor contact to health services.”
– UICC’s Director of Special Projects, Dr Julie Torode
UICC welcomes the WHO/UNICEF response to help restore health programmes so that countries can safely deliver routine immunisation services, such as HPV vaccinations, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Careful communication will be essential to build confidence and trust with communities and the young girls who deserve the protection and sense of wellbeing that the HPV vaccination provides.” said Dr Julie Torode, UICC Director of Special Projects.