WHO and UNICEF encouraging efforts in Viet Nam to catch up on routine childhood vaccinations

Sunday, 30/04/2023 13:00
(CPV) - During World Immunization Week 2023 (24-30 April), the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF are encouraging urgent efforts in Viet Nam to reverse a significant decline in essential, routine vaccination that has left many children unprotected against vaccine-preventable diseases.
Giving 5 in 1 vaccine to children at the Hoa Tri Commune Health Center, Phu Hoa District, Phu Yen Province. (Photo: UNICEF)

The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for all countries, but strong government leadership and community efforts in Viet Nam have helped protect lives and maintain social and economic development. Globally recognized as having rolled out the primary series of COVID-19 vaccines quickly, safely and at scale, Viet Nam ensured that vaccines reached every corner of the country to protect those most vulnerable.

However, over this challenging period significant setbacks to routine immunization coverage for children occurred, as health services were disrupted, health centers closed, families were locked down and imports and exports of vials, syringes and other medical supplies for routine immunization were disrupted. This has resulted in close to 67 million children around the world missing the routine vaccines that keep them safe from deadly diseases. Unfortunately, this is true also for Viet Nam which has experienced the largest sustained decline in rates of childhood vaccinations since the national Expanded Programme on Immunization was established. Viet Nam is among the 20 countries in the world with the highest number of unvaccinated children.

As a result of disruptions to routine immunization globally, vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and polio are breaking out in several countries – demanding urgent, life-saving attention from Ministries of Health. In Viet Nam, WHO and UNICEF are calling for large-scale catch-up efforts for all children in Viet Nam who missed out on their routine immunizations during the pandemic, restoring essential coverage to at least 2019 levels, in order to avoid any outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease in the near future. Longer term, there is also a need to strengthen primary health care to support delivery of routine immunization.

WHO Viet Nam Representative Dr Angela Pratt said, “This year presents a significant opportunity for Viet Nam to catch up after disruptions to routine immunization, due to the pandemic. It is also the right time to address systemic challenges with immunization to strengthen the system overall. WHO is working with partners including UNICEF, to support the Government of Viet Nam to ensure children who missed vaccinations catch up on all doses to avoid preventable outbreaks. We are also working to strengthen primary health care, to ensure robust systems are in place to ensure every child in every corner of the country receives all of their routine immunizations now and in the future.”

UNICEF Viet Nam Representative Ms Rana Flowers said, “Vaccines remain one of humanity’s most remarkable success stories - eliminating entire illnesses and saving countless lives. In the past three decades, they have been vital in reducing the mortality rate of children under 5. Vaccines protect against more than 20 diseases – like measles, diphtheria, HPV, and polio – that can affect anyone. The risks to children are real and deeply concerning. UNICEF, hand in hand with WHO, is ready to support the Government of Viet Nam to urgently ensure that every child in Viet Nam accesses the essential vaccines.” 

Catch-up immunization can build lasting protection in communities and bring Viet Nam back on track to meet the Immunization Agenda 2030 (IA2030) goals, which were endorsed by Viet Nam and other Member States at the World Health Assembly in 2020./.

Khac Kien