Childhood vaccinations: Hidden impact of COVID-19 on children in Singapore

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Published
2021
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Although the direct health impact of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on child health is low, there are indirect impacts across many aspects. We compare childhood vaccine uptake in three types of healthcare facilities in Singapore - public primary care clinics, a hospital paediatric unit, and private paediatrician clinics - from January to April 2020, to baseline, and calculate the impact on herd immunity for measles. We find a 25.6% to 73.6% drop in Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) uptake rates, 0.4 – 10.3% drop for Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis-inactivated Polio-Haemophilus influenza (5-in-1), and 8.0–67.8% drop for Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) across all 3 sites. Consequent herd immunity reduces to 74–84% among 12-month- to 2-year-olds, well below the 95% coverage that is protective for measles. This puts the whole community at risk for a measles epidemic. Public health efforts are urgently needed to maintain efficacious coverage for routine childhood vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic.