Childhood Vaccines in Times of COVID-19

As the COVID-19 Pandemic continues, public health authorities in the United States are sound the alarm that childhood vaccination rates are falling. They explain that the falling number of children who are caught up on their vaccinations is due to parents wanting to avoid exposing themselves and their children to the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. There are also “stay at home” recommendations in many parts of the country, leading parents to delay medical check-ups where vaccines are usually given to children. According to the American Medical Association (AMA), this is a problem:

In order to address some of the issues surrounding vaccine hesitancy and delays in the time of COVID-19, AMA has written an article with tips on boosting vaccination rates at this time. One of these tips is the use of telemedicine (or “telehealth”) to check-in with parents online at their home and determine if a child needs a vaccine, then make the necessary appointment with all safety precautions to get the child vaccinated. Drive-thru vaccination clinics coinciding with flu vaccination season are also discussed.

In 2019, it only took a small decrease in the proportion of children who were immune against measles for the disease to make a comeback in a spectacular way. Dozens of outbreaks were reported in the United States and around the world, with the outbreaks in Samoa and Madagascar having tragic consequences for children. During this pandemic, children may not be exposed to each other as before, but there will be a time when they return to school or daycare, and they are going to need to be immune in order to not kick-off outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases.

Public Health experts recommend that you look over the vaccine recommendation schedule for your locality (here it is for the United States in general) and consult with your child’s healthcare provider on catching up to any missing vaccine doses.

Featured image by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

Author: René F. Najera, DrPH

I am the editor of the History of Vaccines site, an online project by the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. All opinions expressed on these blog posts are not necessarily those of the College or any of my employers. Check out my professional profile on LinkedIn: Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @EpiRen