A new report conducted by the Vaccine Confidence Project published by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) concluded that confidence in childhood vaccines has dropped by 44 percent in 52 countries in recent years. The report surveyed 55 countries and all but three countries—China, India and Mexico—showed a steep decline in vaccine confidence since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
South Korea and Papua New Guinea saw a 44 percent decline and Ghana, Senegal and Japan saw more than a one-third decrease in belief in the importance of childhood vaccines following the pandemic. In the United States there was a decline of 13.6 percent in the belief that vaccines are important for children.1 2 3
The report said that an estimated 67 million children did not receive vaccinations who otherwise would have before the pandemic was declared, with an estimated 48 million children not receiving any routine childhood vaccinations at all. Overall, vaccination levels fell in 112 countries during the COVID pandemic.4
Government Lockdowns Drove Down Childhood Vaccination Rates
The trend of fewer vaccines given to children has been occurring since the COVID pandemic was declared by United Nations (UN) health officials at the World Health Organization (WHO) in early 2020. During the lockdowns instituted by governments in most developed nations, many parents were not able to take their young children to the pediatrician for vaccinations. According to an investigation conducted by Scientific American, during the first month and a half after the COVID pandemic was declared, vaccination across the U.S. sharply declined.
States showed anywhere from a one percent to a 60 percent decrease in vaccination when comparing the total number of vaccinations given in April 2019 to April 2020. In New York City, vaccination in general was down 63 percent and it was down 91 percent in children below the age of two years in the first two months of the government-initiated lockdowns compared to the previous year.5
At the start of the 2020-2021 school year, vaccination rates for children entering kindergarten dropped to 94 percent, one percent less than the government’s purported vaccination goal. The percentage of children who did not get vaccines may be even lower than that, however, because as many as 400,000 children did not enter school as expected due to school closures during the pandemic. Government officials speculate that the rate of childhood vaccination was down due to parents not taking their kids to pediatricians during the pandemic, remote schooling not necessarily requiring vaccination, and concern over the safety of the new COVID shots.
Jason Terk, MD, a pediatrician in Dallas, Texas, warned in 2022 that there is more skepticism about vaccination in general among parents since the COVID pandemic and questions about COVID vaccine safety. “There’s a greater proportion of parents who are questioning routine vaccines.” 6
The latest vaccine hesitancy data from around the world seems to confirm Dr. Terk’s observation.
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1 Zhang J. Confidence in Childhood Vaccine Dips by 44 Percent During COVID-19. The Epoch Times Apr. 19, 2023.
2 Newey S. Confidence in childhood vaccines drops worldwide post-pandemic. The Telegraph Apr. 20, 2023.
3 DNYUZ. Drop in childhood vaccinations amid COVID-19 disruption: Unicef. Apr. 20, 2023.
4 UNICEF. New data indicates declining confidence in childhood vaccines of up to 44 percentage points in some countries during the COVID-19 pandemic. Apr. 20,2023.
5 Daley J. Vaccinations Have Sharply Declined Nationwide during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Scientific American July 8, 2020.
6 Mueller B, Hoffman J. Routine Childhood Vaccinations Slipped in the U.S. During the Pandemic. The New York Times Apr. 21, 2022.