COVID-19 Policies: Remember Measles

Nearly 120 million children in 37 countries are at risk of missing their measlescontaining vaccine (MCV) shots this year, as preventive and public health campaigns take a back seat to policies put in place to contain coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In March, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued guidelines indicating that mass vaccination campaigns should be put on hold to maintain physical distancing and minimize COVID-19 transmission. The disruption of immunization services, even for short periods, will lead to more susceptible individuals, more communities with less than the 95% MCV coverage needed for herd immunity, and therefore more measles outbreaks globally. A mere 15% decrease in routine measles vaccinations—a plausible result of lockdowns and disruption of health services—could raise the burden of childhood deaths by nearly a quarter of a million in poorer countries. Solutions for COVID-19, especially among the global poor, cannot include forgoing vaccinations.