Amid the coronavirus outbreak, many parents have understandably been hesitant to schedule their children’s routine health care, such as vaccines and health screenings.
Childhood vaccinations plummeted in mid-March after COVID-19 was declared a national emergency, leaving many children vulnerable to preventable diseases. It’s possible we could start seeing outbreaks of childhood diseases in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccinations can protect against 14 serious childhood diseases, including measles, influenza (flu), tetanus, polio and whooping cough.
Vaccinations are critical for infants because the vaccines are given on a fairly tight schedule, starting at about 2 months of age. This gives them the best chance for good immunity against illness. With babies, the more months they fall behind, the greater the chance that we’ll see outbreaks.
Pediatricians are concerned that children who have missed vaccinations have also missed other health care that occurs during those visits, including well-child visits, developmental screenings and other important care that should not be delayed.
The U.S. is already seeing the impacts of COVID-19. A recent article reported an alarming:
- 50% drop in measles, mumps, rubella vaccinations
- 50% drop in well-child office visits
- 42% drop in diphtheria and whooping cough vaccinations
- 73% drop in HPV vaccinations
“Parents should continue to prioritize getting their children and teens scheduled for routine vaccinations and well-child visits, in spite of anxieties over COVID,” stated Dr. Stacy Wagner, Christophel Clinic pediatrician. “Routine vaccinations can also help prevent coinfections and secondary infections associated with COVID.”
“As social distancing requirements are relaxed, children and teens who are not vaccinated will be at higher risk for contracting a disease that could be prevented by a vaccine,” she concluded.
Sources: nfid.org; cdc.gov; aap.org