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Will street children receive the Covid 19 vaccine?

Updates • Dec 2020

We already know that street children are not counted in a country’s traditional census and we know that it is common place for street children to not have access to healthcare, from basic first aid to emergency medical support so what will happen when the world welcomes a coronavirus vaccine? Vaccine-preventable diseases in street communities.

Street children do not currently have routine access to vaccinations. Living in an overpopulated slum, with hundreds of people accessing the same toilet facility or without running water puts the street children who our partners work with, at a considerable risk from not only the spread of the pandemic itself but the long-term and life changing effects of Covid 19 on their family and their future.

Not just Covid 19 vaccinations

In 2019, UNICEF reported that 30% of deaths among children under 5 years old are caused by vaccine preventable diseases, more than 1.5 million deaths recorded in children annually from these same diseases.

Many pre-existing vaccination programmes across the world were suspended due to the pandemic in an attempt to reduce the spread of coronavirus. Newborns have missed routine vaccinations, the WHO estimates that 22.9 million babies in Africa alone have missed vaccinations due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nepal has seen outbreaks of measles in 2020, where national measle and rubella vaccination campaigns were suspended earlier in the year.

Additional risks caused by coronavirus

As debts climb, household incomes dwindle and support systems struggle under mounting pressure, the possibility of additional risk for street children grows, from exploitation to trafficking, being lured into gang life or leaving the family home in search of independence and income. Lynne Morris, Toybox CEO: “We must recognise that the number of cases of coronavirus and associated deaths cannot be a true reflection of suffering within the street communities, around the world the street population is not accurately recorded, therefore posing a question around the recording of deaths. But it’s not just about the physical losses, the devastation of the pandemic goes beyond that.

“What we need for street children is access to vaccination programmes without discrimination, parental education around the availability and importance of the vaccination. Crucially, these families need support to rebuild their lives post-pandemic, with children returning to learning and regaining some sense of normality post-pandemic. We sincerely hope to see the street children our partners were supporting in March back in school in 2021, we continue to pursue our birth registration projects and are constantly looking at how Toybox can best support street children in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak.

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