The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on vaccination campaigns for vaccine-preventable diseases
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on vaccination campaigns for vaccine-preventable diseases

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on vaccination campaigns for vaccine-preventable diseases

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

Examination: Impact of the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic on Vaccine Prevention Disease Campaigns. Image credit: aslysun /


The Corona Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in 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 suggested that the current pandemic has also hampered the implementation and planning of mass vaccination campaigns for all VPDs.

Nevertheless, the worldwide impact and progress of reintroducing the post – disturbance vaccination campaign 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 track COVID-19-related disruptions of 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 this study, scientists analyzed the data derived from the immunization depot delay detection. This information was used to assess the target group and the number of announced prophylactic and outbreak response vaccination campaigns that were postponed, planned, reintroduced and canceled with four timestamps, including December 2021, May 2021, December 2020 and May 2020.

The WHO vaccination campaign delay tracking included variables on each vaccination, such as country, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and WHO region, subnational or national campaign, initial implementation date, deferred implementation date, target population size and age range, prophylactic or outbreak response vaccination vaccination campaigns, and source of funding.

The authors compared and analyzed the number of postponed and canceled vaccination campaigns as well as the primary reasons for delay or cancellation at the aforementioned four timestamps.

Survey results

Both prophylactic and outbreak response immunization campaigns were significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic across all vaccines. As of May 2020, out of 183 vaccination efforts in 57 nations, 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 in the early stages of the pandemic included inadequate personal protective equipment for health personnel, lack of health personnel, extensive decommissioning measures and vague public health protocol for safe vaccine administration in a mass campaign.

Nevertheless, in early July 2020, there was a restart of the immunization campaigns. The percentage of campaigns canceled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic dropped 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 immunization campaigns in 54 nations, 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 surveillance sensitivity and the quality of vaccination activities. Resources and staff have been pressured to meet the growing demand for SARS-CoV-2 diagnoses. In addition, some nations have prioritized SARS-CoV-2 vaccine introduction over other immunization initiatives.

Several countries resumed some vaccinations integrated with Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures. Nevertheless, it remains important to bridge the remaining immunity gaps generated by disrupting vaccination programs to avoid widespread VPD outbreaks in a health system already overwhelmed by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.


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

The results of the study showed that COVID-19 created chaos on mass immunization initiatives of all vaccines. The authors believed that there is a significant risk of VPD outbreaks due to the increased number of vulnerable populations due to the extensive postponement of mass vaccination campaigns induced by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic globally.

Taken together, the present study illustrates that COVID-19 severely disrupted both outbreak response and preventive mass vaccination services among all vaccines, thereby putting millions of children at risk of fatal yet preventable diseases. In addition, timely resumption of immunization pursuits and an effective retrieval strategy that integrates enhanced routine immunization campaigns and services are essential 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). The 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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