New Delhi: A whopping 1.1 million children in India missed their routine immunisation against measles in 2022, indicating suboptimal surveillance against the disease, according to a new global report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Measles is a highly contagious, vaccine-preventable disease that requires high population immunity for transmission to be interrupted.
The report, which included data from 194 countries, marked India among the 10 countries — accounting for 55 per cent worldwide — with the highest number of infants who did not receive the measles-containing vaccine (MCV) MCV1. The 10 countries were India (1.1 million), Nigeria (3 million), Democratic Republic of the Congo (1.8 million), Ethiopia (1.7 million), Pakistan (1.1. million), Angola (0.8 million), Philippines (0.8 million), Indonesia (0.7 million), Brazil (0.5 million), and Madagascar (0.5 million).
With 40,967 cases, India was reported among the 37 countries that experienced significant outbreaks in 2022,compared with 22 countries in 2021.
Globally, 33 million children missed a measles vaccine dose in 2022 — nearly 22 million missed their first dose and an additional 11 million missed their second dose. Immunisation against measles worldwide reached its lowest levels since 2008 during the pandemic, resulting in an estimated 9 million measles cases (18 per cent increase) and 136,000 estimated measles deaths (43 per cent increase) in 2022 compared with 2021.
“The increase in measles outbreaks and deaths is staggering, but unfortunately, not unexpected given the declining vaccination rates we’ve seen in the past few years,” said John Vertefeuille, director of CDC’s Global Immunization Division.
“Measles cases anywhere pose a risk to all countries and communities where people are under-vaccinated. Urgent, targeted efforts are critical to prevent measles disease and deaths,” he added.
The report urged countries to find and vaccinate all children against measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases.
“To continue progress toward measles elimination, all children should receive 2 MCV doses to address pandemic-related immunity gaps and measles surveillance should be strengthened,” the report said.