Pandemic-era Dip in Childhood Vax Rates Sparks Concern

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, the Caribbean had a vaccination problem. About 10 years ago, childhood immunisation rates began to slip below the World Health Organisation’s recommended 95 percent, leaving the region vulnerable to a potential re-emergence of deadly diseases like polio, measles or mumps. When the pandemic hit, those rates plummeted further in many countries. “If you look at the Caribbean as a whole, we find that of the more than 11,000 children younger than one year who live in the Caribbean, almost one in ten did not receive all of their vaccine doses,” Dr. Margherita Ghiselli, an immunisation advisor with the Pan American Health Organisation, told the Caribbean Investigative Journalism Network during a virtual PAHO media briefing in April. Much of the rest of the Americas faces a similar predicament, which health officials often blame on a Covid double-whammy: First, movement restrictions during the pandemic limited access to routine medical care; and second, misinformation associated with the Covid shot has made people more reluctant to trust any vaccine.