DOI: 10.3390/microorganisms12030573 ISSN: 2076-2607

Indirect Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Routine Childhood Vaccination in Low-Income Countries: A Systematic Review to Set the Scope for Future Pandemics

Jessica E. Beetch, Amanda Janitz, Laura A. Beebe, Mary Gowin, Chao Xu, Shari Clifton, Katrin Gaardbo Kuhn
  • Virology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Microbiology

The COVID-19 pandemic halted progress in global vaccine coverage and disrupted routine childhood vaccination practices worldwide. While there is ample evidence of the vaccination decline experienced during the pandemic, it is less clear how low-income countries were affected. We executed a systematic review to synthesize the current literature on the impacts of routine childhood vaccinations in low-income countries from 1 January 2020 to 8 February 2023. We collected data using an extraction form on Covidence and assessed the quality of studies included in the review using the Risk of Bias in Non-Randomized Studies of Interventions (ROBINS-I) tool. Effect estimates for changes in vaccination during the pandemic were reported and summarized. Factors that influenced changes were grouped into descriptive themes. Thirteen studies, encompassing 18 low-income countries and evaluating 15 vaccines at varying doses, were included in the final review. We found that routine childhood vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic varied considerably by vaccine type, location, and phase of the pandemic. Nine different themes were identified as factors that influenced changes in vaccination. Documenting past experiences and lessons learned is crucial for informing preparedness efforts in anticipation of future public health emergencies. Failure to effectively address these things in the next public health emergency could result in a recurrence of declining routine childhood vaccinations.

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