The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Global Child Vaccination Rates Are Dropping

Jul 18, 2022

Child vaccination rates around the world dropped considerably over the past two years, according to UNICEF and the World Health Organization. The percentage of children receiving the full dose of the vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, and the measles vaccine, dropped from 86 to 81% between 2019 and 2021. Even worse, the number of children worldwide who received zero doses of the most basic vaccines rose by almost 38%, from 13 million to 18 million during that time.

The drop in child vaccination rates is worst in poorer, underdeveloped countries like India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Brazil.

The recent declines reverse gains that were made over the previous three decades, particularly between 1990 and 2010. Some of the drop is the result of parents having more difficulty getting their children vaccinated due to Covid lockdowns. Misinformation about vaccines and mistrust of Covid vaccines have also played a role. To some degree, this mistrust is not hard to understand, given how access to Covid vaccines has been denied to those in poorer countries by pharmaceutical companies more concerned with profit.

The drop in vaccination rates is already showing its effects. For instance, Brazil’s government declared measles eradicated there six years ago, but it popped up again in the country this year.

The experience of Covid-19 and other epidemics have taught public health officials lessons about what could be done to increase vaccination rates, such as setting up pop-up vaccination posts and keeping them open at night and on weekends. Lily Caprani, of UNICEF, put it well, "We aren’t going to solve this with poster campaigns or social media posts. You need reliable, well-trained, properly compensated community health workers who are out there day in, day out, building trust ... And there simply aren’t enough of them."

Covid-19 has proven that infectious diseases can’t be stopped by putting up border walls. Declining vaccination rates in poorer countries endanger everyone, including those in wealthier countries.

Though public health officials have pretty good knowledge of what it would take to get people vaccinated, this capitalist society based on profit that produces increasing inequalities within and between nations will not succeed in preventing infectious disease outbreaks. It must be replaced with a society that puts human health first.