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Should Routine Childhood Immunizations Continue During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

National immunization programs have been suspended in some countries and are at risk of being suspended in others, considering the strict coronavirus restrictions in place and the huge burden on health workforce that the pandemic poses to hospitals. A study was conducted to weight the risks of sustaining childhood immunizations during this time against the risk of acquiring COVID-19.

The study assessed a high-impact scenario and a low-impact scenario to evaluate the risk of a child dying from COVID-19 due to immunization coverage reductions during the coronavirus pandemic.

In the high-impact scenario, the study team used previous data on child mortality impact of childhood vaccinations for tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, rotavirus, measles, meningitis A, yellow fever, and rubella to determine the future deaths prevented by routine vaccinations during the coronavirus pandemic. In the low-impact scenario, the team evaluated the health benefits of sustaining routine childhood vaccinations on only children who had measles vaccines during the coronavirus pandemic.

The researchers found that in the high-impact scenario, for every one death from COVID-19 acquired during routine vaccination visits, 84 deaths in children are prevented from other infectious diseases for which vaccines are administered.

Summarily, the deaths prevented by sustaining routine childhood immunizations outweigh the risk of contracting and dying from coronavirus, hence children should continue to be vaccinated amid the pandemic.

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