In a triumph for global health, 2022 has seen an impressive recovery in worldwide immunization coverage, following two years of setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent data from the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF indicate that immunization services reached 4 million more children in 2022 than the previous year.
However, with 20.5 million children still missing out on crucial vaccines, it’s clear that further work is necessary to restore immunization services to pre-pandemic levels. Notably, 14.3 million children received no doses of their Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (DTP) vaccine in 2022, a figure that, despite showing improvement from 18.1 million in 2021, still exceeds 2019’s 12.9 million count.
The immunization recovery journey has been uneven, with wealthier nations like India and Indonesia making considerable progress, while most low-income countries continue to struggle, particularly with measles vaccination coverage. The number of children missing out on measles vaccinations has yet to fall to pre-pandemic levels, indicating a pressing need for continued recovery and strengthening efforts.
In a bid to address these disparities and enhance global immunization coverage, WHO, UNICEF, and other major health organizations launched ‘The Big Catch-Up’ earlier this year, calling on governments to urgently restore disrupted services and reach out to children who missed vaccinations due to the pandemic.
Despite the challenges, the strides made in 2022 offer a glimmer of hope in the continued fight against preventable diseases worldwide.