CDC publishes “Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Routine Pediatric Vaccine Ordering and Administration—United States, 2020" in MMWR Early Release
CDC published Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Routine Pediatric Vaccine Ordering and Administration—United States, 2020 in a May 8 early release of MMWR. The report describes drastic reductions in vaccine ordering from the Vaccines For Children (VFC) program and also in vaccine administration to children and teens in recent weeks.
Various shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders have helped slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. However, recent findings show these restrictions have resulted in a troubling decrease in the number of children getting their recommended vaccinations. On March 24, CDC posted guidance stressing the importance of routine well-child visits and immunizations during the COVID-19 pandemic. But recent data show a notable decrease in the ordering and administering of childhood vaccines.
A decline in measles-containing vaccine administration began the week after the declaration of the national emergency on March 13. Similar decreases were also noted for multiple vaccines that are essential to keep other serious diseases from reappearing during this public health emergency. The data indicate that many children are now vulnerable to several serious, vaccine-preventable diseases. The shortfalls are especially significant for children 2 through 18 years of age.
Going forward, healthcare organizations will need to promote childhood and adolescent vaccinations, including reaching out to parents of patients who are overdue for their recommended vaccinations.
Parental fears about potentially exposing children to COVID-19 may contribute to the recent decline in vaccine delivery. Medical practices need to implement safety protocols to protect families and reassure parents that safety protocols are in place. Clinicians and health departments need to continue coordinated efforts to achieve the rapid vaccination catch-up necessary to avoid outbreaks of deadly diseases.
Vaccinating children and teens is of the utmost importance. Parents need to schedule and attend well-child checkups, seek vaccination on schedule, and communicate with their healthcare provider to make sure children are up to date on all their vaccinations.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a reminder of the importance of vaccination and prevention of disease. Postponing vaccinations puts millions of children at risk for preventable infection.
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