Global vaccination coverage is on a sharp decline, according to a new report from UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The findings, published on Friday, show the biggest drop in coverage in 30 years, with levels reaching their lowest point since 2008.

According to the report, which uses vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (the DTP3 vaccine) as a baseline, the percentage of children in developing countries who have received three doses of this vaccine decreased by five percentage points between 2019 and 2021. To put that in perspective, this represents about 25 million children missing out on lifesaving vaccines in 2021.

"This is a red alert for child health," UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said in a statement. "We are witnessing the largest sustained drop in childhood immunization in a generation. The consequences will be measured in lives."

Although COVID-19 had already taken a significant toll on vaccine uptake, factors such as increased misinformation, pandemic-related supply chain disruptions, conflict, prolonged lockdowns, and resource gaps have exacerbated the problem. In remote areas, where access to care is challenging, health workers sometimes have to travel far distances to reach underserved populations.

While some countries — such as Uganda and Pakistan — maintained high levels of vaccine coverage through targeted efforts aimed at vulnerable populations and strong government commitment to immunization, others experienced steep declines in DTP3 coverage. East Asia and the Pacific region, for instance, saw a slide of nine percentage points over the last two years.

Read the full article about global vaccine coverage by Sarah El Gharib at Global Citizen.