Reports claiming many Indian kids missed routine vaccinations due to Covid not based on facts: Government

NEW DELHI: The government on Friday clarified that it has worked with states, union territories and development partners towards mitigating negative impacts of COVID-19, and was making efforts to ensure children receive life-saving vaccines under the Universal Immunization Programme.

The clarification comes a day after UNICEF said India has the highest number of under-vaccinated or unvaccinated children worldwide at 3.5 million.

In a statement, the Health Ministry, without naming anyone, said there have been some media reports alleging that lakhs of Indian children may have missed their routine vaccinations due to disruptions caused by COVID-19, leading to an increased risk of future outbreaks and deaths.

“These reports are not based on facts and do not reflect the true picture,” the ministry said.

It further clarified that since the outbreak of the pandemic, the ministry has been focused towards maintaining essential services, including immunisation under the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP).

“The ministry along with all states and UTs and development partners, has worked towards mitigating negative impacts of COVID-19 and taking urgent actions to ensure that children receive life-saving vaccines under UIP,” the ministry said.

Further, as a result of the commitment of the government and the public health workforce, the country has achieved 99 per cent DTP3 coverage in the first quarter of 2021 (January-March) which is the highest DTP3 coverage measured till date, it said.

UNICEF had on Thursday said that India, particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, had the highest number of unprotected children worldwide at 3.5 million, an increase of 1.4 million compared with 2019, when the number of unprotected children was 2.1 million.

Unprotected children are those who are unvaccinated (no vaccine) or under-vaccinated (incomplete vaccination), that is, any child who has not received any or few doses of their due vaccination.