The case for more vaccinations, even in low-income countries

Children wait to receive vaccines from a polio team at a rural health center in Polokwane, South Africa, on April 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

Vaccination hesitancy in poorer countries stands in sharp contrast to high immunization rates in the developed world. Half of the children in Uganda, Pakistan, Cameroon, and Haiti, who are most at risk of death from polio, are not protected. A report published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health points to a “specific strain of immunization hesitancy in low- and middle-income countries,” and says that “an emerging gap exists between low and middle-income countries’ behaviors and the high immunization rates of high-income countries.”

Two studies in the U.S. — one in August 2017 in the Journal of Child Health and one in October 2017 in Pediatrics — conducted in collaboration with UNICEF, concluded that global vaccination coverage of young children was approaching the plateau, and only 80 percent of the world’s 5-year-olds were fully vaccinated. They cited vaccination rates of 93.8 percent in upper-middle-income countries and 99.4 percent in lower-middle-income countries as a major strength of the global immunization strategy, which had achieved coverage rates of 95 percent.

Meanwhile, as the Washington Post reported last month, the U.S. government is pouring thousands of dollars to undercut competing private-sector efforts to take over the polio vaccine.

Read the full story at The New York Times and the American Journal of Public Health.


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