An Immunization Pulse Poll in the context of COVID-19 conducted between 14 and 24 April, with 801 responses from 107 countries, showed that disruption to the routine immunization program are widespread and affect all WHO regions. 64% of countries represented in the poll indicated that routine immunization has been disrupted or even suspended. Most respondents noting immunization disruptions have indicated that no or limited outreach is taking place and that fewer users are visiting vaccination posts (Data analysis ongoing).
Reasons for decreased immunizations visits reported were physical distance measure, difficulties with transportation and fear of COVID-19 transmission in health care facilities as well as lack of community engagement and communication. Three in four respondents from MOH, WHO or UNICEF noted that some special efforts are being made to monitor interruptions in immunization services in order to better plan catch-up activities (catch-up immunization, campaigns, etc.).
Regarding involvement of immunization staff (vaccinators and more management/ coordination roles) in the COVID response, respondents noted in most cases that supervision activities are not taking place and that there are disruptions in the normal distribution of vaccines within the country. Responses about campaigns came to complement efforts by partners that are looking into SIAs for a variety of vaccine-preventable diseases as per the table below.
Regarding measles surveillance, no suspension was reported. However, for over half of countries (58/107), disruptions related to case detection, case investigations, and notification (fewer reports, limited staff for case investigations, etc.) were reported. Information about measles laboratory diagnosis was available for 98 countries, it was reported (by a unique or a majority of respondents) as continuing for 47 countries, as disrupted for 36, and had conflicted information for 15. Many respondents highlighted limitations in lab personnel, some issues related to transportation of lab supplies and/or specimens and some labs being switched to testing for COVID-19 almost exclusively (Data analysis ongoing).
The results of this poll (in addition to information received from Regional Offices) are being used to revise/prioritize the immunization guidance and FAQs being produced to help Member States maintain essential services and plan for immunization activities in the recovery phase. Based on the final analysis further planning will be carried out.
This poll was coordinated between WHO, UNICEF, Gavi and Sabin’s Boost Initiative and shared through regional offices, the Boost network, TechNet-21 and immunization partners and their networks. The data collected are subject to limitations inherent to voluntary self-reporting, self-selection bias, not all countries responded, countries with only one response vis-à-vis countries with many, possibility of fraudulent responses and not having a sampling frame to make inferences. Furthermore, the information about each country does not represent official reporting from Member States to WHO or UNICEF. Thus, the results presented here need to be interpreted with caution and do not represent in any way a WHO or UNICEF position regarding any country or territory for which one or more replies were received.