April 2020: Mass vaccination campaigns paused to prevent the risk of Covid-19

In line with interim WHO recommendations released last month, multiple global health organizations paused mass vaccination campaigns in April to prevent the risk of Covid-19 transmission to campaign recipients and health care workers:

  • The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) paused all polio vaccination campaigns, advising countries to temporarily postpone planned and outbreak response drives until the second half of 2020, and then reevaluate outbreak response campaigns based on the status of the pandemic. GPEI noted, however, that final decisions on proceeding with outbreak response rest with countries. GPEI

  • Measles immunization campaigns in 24 countries have already been delayed and more will be postponed, according to a Measles & Rubella Initiative statement. The partnership urges countries to continue routine immunization services while ensuring the safety of communities and health workers. M&RI

  • Gavi announced the postponement of 14 vaccination campaigns it supports against cholera, human papillomavirus, measles, meningitis, polio and yellow fever. Gavi

As the coronavirus response continues, WHO issued a statement ahead of World Immunization Week (April 24–30) urging countries to prioritize the continuation of routine immunization and to facilitate urgent catch-up campaigns where services have been disrupted, to prevent diseases from “roaring back.” WHO

Meanwhile, on April 23—in contrast with its position on the temporary suspension of mass vaccination campaigns—WHO called for countries to maintain and accelerate malaria mass vector control campaigns while ensuring health worker and community safety. The organization released new modeling results ahead of World Malaria Day on April 25, showing that under a worst-case scenario, involving the full suspension of insecticide-treated net campaigns and a 75 percent reduction in access to antimalarials, malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa this year would double 2018’s number. WHO

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