According to the most recent WUENIC estimates of national immunisation coverage, Pakistan increased its routine childhood immunisation rates in 2021 and decreased the number of “zero-dose children” (ZDC) who do not receive vaccines by nearly half. This represents a significant improvement after the country’s ZDC population sharply increased in 2020.
Following a decline in 2020, the percentage of kids in Pakistan who received the three doses of diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccine (DTP3)—a crucial proxy to gauge immunisation coverage and the reach of health systems within and across nations—rose to 83 percent in 2021, which is close to pre-pandemic levels (77 percent ).
Between 2018 and 2021, Pakistan increased its first dose of measles vaccine coverage by 2%, and in that same year, one of the largest measles-rubella campaigns in history was begun.
At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected basic health services, including routine immunisation, around the world, the nation’s advancements in childhood vaccination and lowering the number of children with zero doses are impressive.
Reaching zero-dose children—and the communities they live in—improves the capacity of the health system to protect the population. Zero-dose children are those who do not receive even one dose of a basic routine vaccine.
Pakistan achieved these remarkable results by maintaining and reestablishing immunisation services through, among other collaborative efforts with partners, public-private partnerships for service delivery, 24/7 immunisation services in hospitals, integrated immunisation service delivery, and extended evening and weekend immunisation in urban slums.
Its development serves as an illustration of how nations might continue to enhance routine immunization programmes while remaining devoted to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The nation has also vaccinated about 130 million people (around 56 percent of the total population) with a primary series of two doses thanks to assistance from Gavi and COVAX.
Following a historically large-scale global rollout in which lower-income nations distributed more than 4 billion COVID-19 vaccines, Gavi and its partners will concentrate on assisting nations in incorporating COVID-19 into routine immunisation programmes, maximising opportunities to boost demand for and uptake of life-saving vaccines, and assisting in the recovery and expansion of coverage.
Regarding Pakistan’s development, Dr. Tokunbo Oshin, Director of High Impact Countries at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, says:
“At a time when crucial health services, including routine immunisation, have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Pakistan has shown its resiliency and dedication to immunisation by the excellent success it has made in extending childhood vaccines.