Guiding principles for immunization activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Interim guidance, 26 March 2020
World Health Organization
MetadataShow full item record
As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, this document and accompanying FAQ will be revised as necessary. Due to the global circulation of the virus causing COVID-19 and the current pandemic, there is risk of disruption to routine immunization activities due to both COVID-19 related burden on the health system and decreased demand for vaccination because of physical distancing requirements or community reluctance. Disruption of immunization services, even for brief periods, will result in increased numbers of susceptible individuals and raise the likelihood of outbreak-prone vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs) such as measles. Such VPD outbreaks may result in increased morbidity and mortality predominantly in young infants and other vulnerable groups, which can cause greater burden on health systems already strained by the COVID-19 response. The high potential for VPD outbreaks makes it imperative for countries to maintain continuity of immunization services wherever services can be conducted under safe conditions. Prior disease outbreaks and humanitarian emergencies have underscored the importance of maintaining essential health services such as immunization, and effectively engaging communities in planning and service delivery. Yet the complexity and global reach of the COVID-19 response with respect to mandatory physical distancing (also referred to as social distancing) and economic impact on households is unprecedented for public health. This document provides guiding principles and considerations to support countries in their decision making regarding provision of immunization services during the COVID-19 pandemic and is endorsed by the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization. It is complemented by a range of WHO technical materials on response and mitigation measures for COVID-19. Each country will need to make individual risk assessments based on the local dynamics of COVID-19 transmission, immunization and health system characteristics, and current VPD epidemiology in their setting.