The Impact of COVID-19 Restrictions on Childhood Vaccination Uptake: A Rapid Review
Vaccines are highly effective for preventing a range of childhood infections. However, there have been concerns about the decrease in childhood vaccinations in 2020, with the WHO and UNICEF warning of an ‘alarming decline’ due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
By analysing 35 published studies and 10 reports by national or international agencies, we found reductions in diphtheria tetanus pertussis, BCG, measles and polio vaccine uptake, as well as a range of other vaccines regularly given to children. Reductions in many settings were reversed once restrictions were lifted. However, not all settings reported a return to complete normality.
Smaller declines were seen in younger children than older children. In addition, children born to women who could not read and write were more likely to be incompletely immunised. Barriers to access and maintaining public transport infrastructure impacted uptake of childhood vaccinations as well.
The evidence in this review shows that obstacles to the delivery of vaccination services during the COVID-19 pandemic drove down immunisation rates, especially in disadvantaged people and poorer countries.
Appendix 1. The Impact of COVID-19 Restrictions on Childhood Vaccination Uptake
Figure 1. PRIMSA 2020 Flow Diagram
Figure 2. PRISMA Checklist
Table 1. Primary Studies on Childhood Vaccination Uptake
Table 2. Reports by National and International Agencies