Feature Stories

Jason Nagata, MD, MSc, September 28, 2021

Drought in Africa Linked to Lower Vaccine Rates in Children

A new UCSF study published in PLOS Medicine finds that drought may hinder child vaccination coverage in Africa. Drought at the time of birth was associated with lower vaccine rates of four important childhood vaccines, including measles and polio vaccines. Polio vaccination rates were the lowest closest to the time of drought. The study analyzed national survey data of nearly 140,000 children from 22 countries in sub-Saharan Africa with rainfall data. 

“Our study demonstrates that climate change can hinder vaccinations, one of the most important interventions to prevent infections among children,” said co-lead author, Jason Nagata, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, UCSF Division of Adolescent & Young Adult Medicine. “Drought may lead to lower childhood vaccination rates through financial instability, food insecurity, avoidance due to illness, and erosion of the public health infrastructure[NJ1] .”

“Health care programs need to be prepared to effectively provide clinical and preventive care amidst the changing climate,” Nagata added.