Impact that the COVID-19 pandemic on routine childhood vaccinations and challenges ahead: A narrative review


Aim: To document the decline in vaccination coverage in the first months of 2020 as an indirect effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: We performed a literature review in medical databases. Overall, 143 articles were initially retrieved, out of which 48 were selected and included in the review. Results: Our review retrieved similar data in many countries worldwide, and, globally, preliminary data from the first 4 months of 2020 indicate a decline in diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis coverage, generally considered the marker of vaccination coverage across countries. World Health Organization recommends maintaining vaccination services, prioritising primary series vaccinations especially for measles-rubella or poliomyelitis, but it also lets each country decide whether to maintain the immunisation services evaluating the current epidemiology of vaccine-preventable diseases and the COVID-19 local transmission scenario. Successively, recovering of vaccinations should be planned. Moreover, during the pandemic, influenza vaccination should be promoted as a central public health measure. Conclusion: Future challenges will be to maintain the vaccination programmes, especially in children younger than 2 years old and adolescents, to plan the recovery of vaccinations for subjects who postponed them during the lockdown, and to early identify any vaccine-preventable disease outbreak. Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; children; immunisation coverage; pandemic; vaccinations.