To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to reports by the World Health Organisation that there has been a significant decline in the global vaccination of children against diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough in the first four months of this year, what urgent action they are taking (1) to reverse this decline, (2) to minimise the disruption of immunisation programmes in adversely impacted areas, and (3) to prevent further deterioration in vaccine coverage.
COVID-19 lockdown measures have disrupted routine immunisation services in the poorest countries with the weakest health systems, reducing access to vaccines for vulnerable children. The World Health Organisation estimates that coverage of the third dose of diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis may have declined by 25-50% in May 2020 in Gavi-supported countries as compared to baseline levels.
Routine immunisation is the strongest shield against outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases. The UK is Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance's largest donor. Through UK support, Gavi, UNICEF and the World Health Organisation are working closely with countries to maintain and restore coverage levels, through catch up immunisation campaigns and strengthened routine immunisation programmes.
Through our support to Gavi and DFID’s bilateral health programmes, we are advocating for the importance of immunisation within countries’ COVID-19 primary health care recovery plans, with an unrelenting focus on equity at the sub-national level and reaching zero-dose children. The $8.8 billion raised by the UK at the Global Vaccine Summit on 4th June, will enable Gavi to immunise 300 million more children and save up to 8 million lives.