Routine Immunization Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Understanding how to apply WHO guidance on the considerations to weigh when making decisions about the provision of immunization services during the COVID-19 pandemic to the Western Pacific Region 

HOW YOU CAN USE THIS MATERIAL:

Help decide if the provision of immunization services, including routine immunization and mass vaccination campaigns, are appropriate in your country during the pandemic and if so, how to safely conduct immunization services. 

OVERVIEW

This document provides guiding principles and considerations to support countries in the Western Pacific Region in their decision-making around the provision of immunization services during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Key Points

  • Temporary interruption of immunization services during the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases (VPD), which may result in higher morbidity and mortality, more severe economic damage, and worsened gender inequality, as women are often the primary caregivers of sick children. 
  • As much as possible, countries should continue routine immunization services while taking steps to ensure safety and efficiency such as: clear communication to health facilities and communities, limitation of mass vaccination or outreach activities, prioritization of vulnerable populations, or scheduling immunization sessions at different time/locations than other services. 
  • VPD surveillance should be maintained and reinforced to enable early detection and management of VPD cases, and where feasible, contribute to surveillance of COVID-19. 
  • If provision of immunization services is negatively impacted by COVID-19, countries will need to track defaulters and design strategies for catch-up vaccination for the period post COVID-19 outbreak. 
  • Where feasible, influenza vaccination of health workers, older adults, and pregnant women, and pneumococcal vaccination of older adults and people with chronic illness is advised to reduce the burden on healthcare services. 

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