Immunizations save up to 3 million lives every year by protecting people, especially children, from vaccine-preventable diseases. Data from the World Health Organization show that since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccination campaigns in many countries have been canceled or postponed while health resources are redirected to fighting the coronavirus. This is alarming news—not only does it mean that more children are immediately vulnerable to killer diseases like measles and polio, but it also creates opportunities for diseases that are under control in some areas to take hold once again.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is doing all we can to continue immunizations in our projects around the world while also protecting patients and staff against COVID-19. For example, in Vathy refugee camp on the Greek island of Samos, MSF vaccinated children under five against a range of childhood diseases including pneumonia, meningitis, and hepatitis B, all while observing infection prevention and control measures. “Our vaccination campaign was very challenging in COVID time, but we managed to vaccinate almost everyone inside the camp,” says MSF health promoter supervisor Ben Taleb Zied (Kira).