Confidence in childhood vaccines dropped after Covid-19 pandemic, Unicef warns

Confidence in childhood vaccines fell in several countries during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new research report by Unicef.

In Belgium, confidence in vaccines dropped from 87 to 72 per cent after the pandemic. Confidence fell sharply among under-35s, while the opposite was true in over-65s. "The overall increased scepticism towards childhood vaccinations in our country is worrying," Unicef says.

"This is due to the pandemic, the overburdening of health services and the use of scarce resources for other purposes, as well as conflict, political instability and declining confidence in vaccinations," the UN organisation said.

"At the height of the pandemic, scientists rapidly developed vaccines that saved countless lives," says Catherine Russell, executive director of Unicef. "But despite this historic achievement, fear and disinformation about all types of vaccines circulated as strongly as the virus itself."

The report points out that a total of 67 million children missed out on vaccinations between 2019 and 2021, reducing vaccination coverage in 112 countries. Moreover, in most countries, people under 35 and women were more likely to report lower confidence levels. The number of cases of measles and polio also increased significantly compared to before the pandemic.

However, Unicef stresses that overall support for vaccines remains relatively high. In almost half of the 55 countries surveyed, more than 80 per cent of respondents consider vaccines important for children.

China, India and Mexico are the only countries surveyed where perceptions held up or even improved. In Korea, Papua New Guinea, Ghana, Senegal and Japan, the importance attached to childhood vaccination fell by a third.



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