Routine vaccination during covid-19 pandemic response

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2020
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Routine vaccination of pregnant women and children must remain a priority during the covid-19 pandemic response. The UK and other countries could experience outbreaks of measles and other vaccine preventable diseases if uptake of routine vaccinations falls, undoing decades of progress. Vaccination has been one of the most effective interventions in driving down infant mortality to historically low levels worldwide. Complete, timely vaccination protects and confers benefits across the whole of childhood. However, this protection is greatly reduced if vaccine schedules are delayed or incomplete.1 In the UK, almost 95% of infants have completed their primary vaccinations by their first birthday,2 but uptake of later childhood vaccines and seasonal flu and whooping cough vaccines recommended in pregnancy, varies from year to year.34 Uptake is lower in inner cities, in deprived postcodes, and among some minority ethnic groups.3 Disease epidemics can disrupt healthcare and cause resurgence of vaccine preventable infections.5 In 2019, the UK lost its measles “elimination status” because of outbreaks resulting from historical low vaccine uptake.6 Children risk becoming unseen victims of the covid-19 pandemic.