Impact of COVID-19 on routine immunization in South-East Asia and Western Pacific: Disruptions and solutions

April 20, 2021

Rebecca C. Harris, Yutao Chen, Pierre Côte, Antoine Ardillon, Maria Carmen Nievera, Anna Ong-Lim, Somasundaram Aiyamperumal, Chan Poh Chong, Kiruthika Velan Kandasamy, Kuharaj Mahenthiran, Ta-Wen Yu, Changshu Huang, Clotilde El Guerche-Séblain, Juan C. Vargas-Zambrano, Ayman Chit, Gopinath Nageshwaran.

Lancet Regional Health Western Pacific

Harris et al. examined disruptions in routine immunizations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in Southeast Asia and Western Pacific (SEA/WP) regions. A questionnaire was administered to 19 countries between June 14 and July 10, 2020, to evaluate the status of routine immunizations between February/March 2020 and June 1, 2020. Overall, 95% of countries in SEA/WP experienced vaccination disruption. Countries reported a median of 15 antigens for which immunizations have been disrupted due to COVID-19, with infants and school-entry age children experiencing the most disruption in their routine vaccination schedule. Middle-income countries experienced higher rates of disruption than high-income countries. Patients’ fear of infection, travel restrictions, and lack of healthcare access were frequently cited as reasons for vaccine disruption (100%, 88%, and 76%, respectively). The authors proposed several solutions to mitigate disruption, including virtual engagement and awareness campaigns, creating a dedicated immunization space that excludes sick/infectious patients, and offering home vaccination services.

Harris RC, Chen Y, Côte P, et al. Impact of COVID-19 on routine immunisation in South-East Asia and Western Pacific: Disruptions and solutions. Lancet Reg Heal - West Pacific 2021; 0: 100140.