Due to the global circulation of the virus causing the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a risk of disruption of routine healthcare services, including routine immunization activities. In Cambodian, an immunization coverage during the COVID-19 outbreak may be decreasing. Therefore, we aimed to determine the impacts of COVID-19 on routine immunization coverage in 2020 and compared them to 2019 coverage areas during the same period.
Mixed methods were used, both quantitative and qualitative approaches; the latter could offer the opportunity to obtain an in-depth understanding of healthcare providers’ perspectives about immunization coverage during the COVID-19 outbreak. Fully immunized children are defined as receiving a BCG vaccination, 3 doses of the DPT vaccine, 3 doses of the polio vaccine, and a measles vaccine. First, all immunization records among children aged 0-18 months from January to December 2020 were collected and entered into Excel, and compared to the same period in 2019 in the Peam Ek health center, Battambang province. Second, three healthcare providers involved in the immunization were interviewed.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of children fully immunized in 2019 was 1133, while in 2020, the number was 2162. On average, approximately 180 children were vaccinated, double the number in 2019. Males accounted for 45.45% of the total in 2019 and 52.27% in 2020. It was surprising to see that the number in 2020 was almost double that in 2019. Additionally, interviews with health staff indicated that implementation of vaccination service was continuous, and outreach immunization activities in the community were arranged. Many deliveries in HC found to the increased numbers of vaccinations.
When addressing the COVID-19-related public health emergency, we should not lose sight of the importance of routine healthcare services such as vaccination activities. The increase in the number of children 0-18 months fully immunized in the Peak Ek health center in 2020 compared to 2019 during the pandemic could be attributed to many factors. These contributing factors included non-disruption of routine health care services, including vaccination programs and outreach immunization activities in far communities. Mothers are aware of the importance of vaccination and know how to protect themselves from COVID-19 transmission.