Vaccines work. The delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations and ensuring that children’s routine immunization happens during the pandemic are both critical to public health. For this reason, during this year’s World Immunization Week, Ministry of Health, EU Delegation to Montenegro, UNICEF and WHO call upon parents to ensure that their children receive routine vaccines while adhering to the #DistanceMaskHands measures.
“The Ministry of Health calls for the vaccination of all children in accordance with the immunization calendar to avoid new health crises due to the outbreak of diseases that could have been fully prevented”, said Jelena Borovinic-Bojovic, the Minister of Health of Montenegro.
Immunization coverage rates for the first dose of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR1) have decreased in Montenegro from 90% in 2010 to staggering 23,88% among children born in 2019 who were supposed to receive their first dose of the measles vaccine during 2020.
“The immunization of all children must be done in parallel to the delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations. Vaccines save 2 to 3 million children each year from deadly diseases. Measles vaccinations prevented over 23 million deaths between 2000 and 2018. We all have a collective responsibility to do what is best for our children and society – follow the routine immunization for the protection of our own and our neighbour’s children”, UNICEF Montenegro Representative Juan Santander said.
UNICEF and EU Delegation to Montenegro support the Ministry of Health to launch a national campaign to urgently increase MMR immunization coverage rate in Montenegro.
“Vaccines save lives. EU supports Montenegro’s routine immunization efforts to ensure that all children realize their right to grow healthy and reach their full potential”, the EU Ambassador Oana-Cristina Popa said.
According to a recent WHO survey, many countries still report disruptions to their routine immunization services due to the pandemic, paving the way for future outbreaks and putting at risk decades of progress.
As a flagship initiative of the European Programme of Work, the European Immunization Agenda 2030 sets a new course to address inequalities in vaccination coverage between and within countries in the European Region. It is especially important now when immunization coverage rates have been under threat. “Together with Member States, our partners UNICEF Gavi and others, we will tackle these challenges and support the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,”, dr Mina Brajovic, WHO Head of Office in Montenegro pointed out.
Montenegro’s MMR immunization campaign is part of a 2-year health initiative implemented by the Ministry of Health with support from the EU and UNICEF. Its aim is to support the country to deal with the coronavirus pandemic effectively while, at the same time, ensuring that routine immunization happens so that an epidemic of vaccine-preventable diseases does not occur.