Staff Reporter 

As the world observes the World Immunisation Week from April 24, Bhutan attempts to catch up on where the pandemic has affected the coverage in the country. 

According to a joint press release from the health ministry, WHO and UNICEF, Bhutan achieved immunisation coverage above 95 percent in 2020 equal to the coverage in the past decade. 

Health secretary Dr Pandup Tshering said that immunisation was critically important now than ever during the Covid-19 pandemic “to prevent outbreaks of other vaccine-preventable diseases to prevent further strain on the health system.” 

The country has managed to reduce the burden of various diseases especially those affecting infants and children through its strong vaccination program over many years, stated the press release. 

“Its success with vaccination has resulted in WHO’s certification of Bhutan for various achievements such as sustaining polio-free status and the certification for elimination of neonatal tetanus, measles, and control of Hepatitis B,” it stated.

Globally 37 percent of countries reported disruptions to immunisation services in the first quarter of 2021, stated the press release.  “The global decline in immunisation coverage is attributed to over-burdened and shortage of health workers and health workers struggling to deliver essential services like immunisations.” 

The press release stated that vaccines were the best hope to end the pandemic and rebuild lives. 

“Unicef and WHO are calling on governments and partners to work together to build confidence in vaccines both Covid-19 and the routine immunisation that saves children’s lives,” the press release stated.  

The world immunisation week aims to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease. This year’s theme for world immunisation week is ‘Vaccines bring us closer.’