The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic from 2019 to 2021 has left 6.2 million Nigerian children unvaccinated, according to Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
She made the statement in Abuja on Tuesday during a news conference to celebrate the African Vaccination Week and World Immunization Week, with the theme “The Big Catch-Up”.
Moeti explained that in Africa, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on routine immunization services, causing a rise of 16% between 2019 and 2021 and pushing the cumulative total (2019–2021) to around 33 million, nearly half the global estimate.
Moeti called for renewed and intensified efforts by governments and partners to reach the children, with a high-level event during the African Union Summit in February 2023 endorsing a declaration aimed at revamping and scaling up routine immunisation across the continent.
He praised the government for implementing Optimized Outreach Sessions and integrating Routine Immunization during COVID-19 vaccination, Measles and Yellow Fever Supplementary Immunization Activities.
He also urged the media to create awareness and encourage community leaders to take responsibility to organise and participate fully in the conduct of immunization sessions.