The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global health is undeniable, with immunization services significantly disrupted. Nevertheless, 2022 brought a ray of hope, with data from WHO and UNICEF showing immunization services reaching 4 million more children than the previous year.
The road to full recovery, however, remains steep. In 2022, 20.5 million children missed out on essential vaccines, an improvement from 24.4 million in 2021 but higher than the 18.4 million recorded in 2019.
Particular attention is on the ‘zero-dose’ children, who didn’t receive a single dose of the DTP vaccine. The number of zero-dose children decreased from 18.1 million in 2021 to 14.3 million in 2022, still higher than the 12.9 million reported in 2019.
Recovery efforts have been uneven, with wealthier countries like India and Indonesia seeing significant progress, whereas low-income countries continue to face challenges, particularly in measles vaccination coverage.
To address these gaps, WHO, UNICEF, Gavi, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and other IA2030 partners have launched ‘The Big Catch-Up’, a global initiative aiming to restore immunization services to pre-pandemic levels, catch up children who missed their vaccines during the pandemic, and bolster the resilience of healthcare systems for the future.