The United Nations said Tuesday vaccinations for children have generally rebounded since a drop during the COVID-19 pandemic but warned that vaccination rates in many smaller and poorer countries are not experiencing the same progress.
The U.N. said 20.5 million children missed one or more routine vaccinations in 2022, an improvement from 24.4 million the year before. In 2019, before the pandemic hit worldwide, that figure was 18.4 million.
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called the overall figures “encouraging,” but said global and regional numbers “mask severe and persistent inequities.”
The U.N. said 73 countries saw substantial declines in child vaccination rates during the pandemic, and that 34 of those countries have seen their rates either fail to improve or get worse.
Rates for measles vaccines followed the larger global trend, with 83% of children receiving a first does during their first year of life in 2022, improving from 81% in 2021 but not reaching the 86% level achieved before the pandemic.