Monday, November 28, 2022

Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on vaccination campaigns for vaccine preventable diseases

Study: Impact of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic on vaccine-preventable disease campaigns. Image Credit: aslysun /

In a recent study published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases, researchers evaluate the impact of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic on vaccine-preventable disease (VPD) initiatives.

Study: Impact of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic on vaccine-preventable disease campaigns. Image Credit: aslysun /


The 2019 coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) pandemic has led to a widespread disruption of immunization services worldwide, such as the postponement of mass vaccination initiatives. In fact, several independent reports from countries and regions have implied that the current pandemic has also hampered the implementation and planning of mass vaccination campaigns for all VPDs.

Nevertheless, the global impact and progress of the reinstatement of the vaccination campaign following the disruption caused by the current pandemic has not been measured and thoroughly investigated. In May 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) and partner countries began efforts to detect COVID-19-linked disruptions in mass vaccination efforts against measles, cholera, polio, meningitis A, typhoid, yellow fever and tetanus diphtheria via the Immunization Repository Campaign Delay Tracker.

About the study

In the present study, scientists analyzed the data derived from the immunization custody campaign delay tracker. This information was used to evaluate the target population and the number of announced prophylactic and outbreak response vaccination campaigns that were postponed, scheduled, reinstated and canceled at four time stamps including December 2021, May 2021, December 2020 and May 2020.

The WHO Vaccination Campaign Delay Pointer included variables across each vaccination, such as country, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and WHO region, subnational or national campaign, original implementation date, deferred implementation date, target population size and age range, prophylactic or outbreak response. or co-administered vaccines, and funding source.

The authors compared and analyzed the number of vaccination campaigns that were postponed and canceled, as well as the primary causes for delay or cancellation at the aforementioned four time stamps.

Study findings

Both prophylactic and outbreak response immunization campaigns have been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic across all vaccines. In May 2020, out of 183 vaccination attempts in 57 countries, 105 were canceled or postponed due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, with an expected 796 million missed or delayed vaccine doses.

The key factors responsible for the disruption of vaccination services during the early phase of the pandemic include inadequate personal protective equipment for health care workers, lack of health workers, extensive lock-up measures and vague public health protocol for safe vaccine administration in a mass campaign environment.

Nevertheless, in early July 2020, there was a restart of the immunization campaigns. The percentage of campaigns that have been canceled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic has decreased from 56% in May 2020 to 16% in December 2021. Furthermore, the fastest resumption rate was observed in the monovalent oral polio vaccine type 2 (mOPV2) initiatives.

Yet out of 472 vaccination campaigns in 54 countries, 77, particularly in African regions, were still canceled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in December 2021, with nearly 382 million missed or delayed vaccine doses.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to limit the surveillance sensitivity and quality of vaccination activities. Resources and staff were driven to meet the increased demand for SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis. In addition, some countries have prioritized the introduction of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine over other immunization initiatives.

Several countries have resumed some vaccinations that have been integrated with Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures. Yet it remains essential to bridge the remaining immunity gaps generated by the disruption of vaccination programs to prevent widespread VPD outbreaks in a health system already overloaded by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.


According to the authors, the current study was the most thorough account of how the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on mass vaccination efforts currently available.

The study findings showed that COVID-19 wreaked havoc on mass immunization initiatives of all vaccines. The authors believed that there was a significant risk of VPD outbreaks due to the increased number of vulnerable populations due to the extensive mass vaccination campaign delayed caused by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic worldwide.

In summary, the current study illustrates that COVID-19 severely disrupted both outbreak response and preventive mass vaccination services among all vaccines, thus putting millions of children at risk of developing deadly yet preventable diseases. Furthermore, the timely reinstatement of immunization pursuits and an effective catch-up strategy that integrates improved routine immunization campaigns and services is critical to prevent the accumulation of vulnerable individuals and ultimately reduce the risk of disease outbreaks.

Journal reference:

  • Ho, L., Gurung, S., Mirza, I., et al. (2022). Impact of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic on vaccine-preventable disease campaigns. International Journal of Infectious Diseases. doi: 10.1016 / j.ijid.2022.04.005.


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