Recent statistics on the state of children vaccinations by the United Nations Children’s Fund have revealed that the confidence among South Africans regarding vaccines given to children declined by 30% after the start of the pandemic in early 2020.
According to UNICEF, the decline was fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic disturbances on the health system as well as the continued lack of trust in the health system itself.
UNICEF South Africa Manager, Mercy Kamupira, urged all stakeholders to play their part in tackling vaccines hesitancy.
“Improving confidence in childhood vaccination is the role of government but the role of many other stakeholders. Not only simple trust in the vaccines but trust in the people who deliver vaccines, trust in people who make policies about vaccines and trust in the entire system. It could be from the supply side. Are we able to deliver quality immunization services with good communication with care givers that they understand what their children are getting, that they know the return dates and they know what to do if there are any potential side effects,” says Kampura.
UNICEF has warned parents and caregivers of the possible challenges a child could face if they skip vaccines in their childhood. “They can get infected by that vaccine preventable disease. We know measles for example can cause blindness, polio can cause paralysis and so on or they could even die. If many children are missing a vaccine that prevents pneumonia, the pneumococcal vaccine, we are going to have lots of pneumonia cases, lots of anti-biotic use and that could also result in anti-biotic resistance which is actually a bigger community challenge. At a country level, we know the sustainable development goal number three is about healthy life for everyone. So, then we will not be able to meet that goal,” she adds.
12.7 million children in Africa missed out on one or more vaccinations over 3 years.
COVID-19 caused service disruption, strained health systems, diverted scarce resources, while conflicts, climate change have driven this decline on the continent.
— UNICEF Africa (@UNICEFAfrica) April 20, 2023