Vaccines (Basel). 2023 Oct 5;11(10):1569. doi: 10.3390/vaccines11101569.
Despite free vaccinations for all children, Ethiopia is one of the ten countries where most children do not receive all of their basic vaccines. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted service delivery and utilization worldwide. In this study, we assessed the effect of the pandemic on routine childhood vaccinations in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. The data were collected from immunization records, health system monthly reports, and interviews with vaccination professionals. The data were analyzed using interrupted time series and thematic analyses. In 6940 records covering 2018-2022, the number of vaccine doses that were delivered steadily increased except for 2021/22. Vaccine delivery consistently increased prior to the pandemic. Immediately after the first case was reported, there were some disruptions, but they were not statistically significant compared to the pre-pandemic period. In-depth interviews also confirmed this finding, showing early pandemic fear and protective measures had an impact but were not sustained. These results show that COVID-19 has had a transient but non-significant effect on childhood vaccination. Although the interruption was statistically insignificant, it could reverse decades of progress toward safeguarding children from vaccine-preventable diseases. Therefore, we must intensify our initiatives to boost childhood vaccination rates and restore pre-pandemic services to regain momentum and avoid future setbacks.