The health sector has faced considerable disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF brings a ray of hope. The data show a positive trend in global immunization coverage in 2022, with services reaching 4 million more children than the previous year.
Despite this, challenges persist. The number of children missing out on crucial vaccines through routine services remains high at 20.5 million. This figure, albeit lower than the 24.4 million reported in 2021, exceeds the 18.4 million recorded in 2019, highlighting a need for robust strategies for recovery and system strengthening.
The road to recovery is a rocky one, with disparities in immunization progress observed worldwide. Resource-rich countries, including India and Indonesia, have seen significant progress, overshadowing slower recovery or continued decline in low-income countries, particularly in measles vaccination coverage.
Efforts to tackle these disparities have resulted in the launch of ‘The Big Catch-Up’, an initiative by WHO, UNICEF, Gavi, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and other IA2030 partners. This campaign is geared towards catching up on missed vaccinations, restoring services to pre-pandemic levels, and strengthening services for the future. The initiative serves as a reminder that, despite the challenges, the global health community remains committed to ensuring every child has access to life-saving vaccines.