Routine childhood vaccinations in the United States have slipped during the pandemic

In the United States, kindergarteners have fallen behind in routine childhood vaccinations during the pandemic, according to the Centers...


In the United States, kindergarteners have fallen behind in routine childhood vaccinations during the pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursdaya slide that experts attributed to skipped exams and a wave of resistance to Covid-19 shots spreading in unease about other vaccines.

In the 2020-2021 school year, about 94% of kindergarten children received required vaccines, down about one percentage point from the previous school year, the CDC said. This has brought coverage levels below the 95% target, raising fears that life-threatening childhood diseases like measles may become more widespread at some point.

“That means there are 35,000 more children in the United States during this time without documentation of full immunizations against common diseases,” said Dr. Georgina Peacock, acting director of the CDC’s immunization services division. , during a press conference on Thursday. “This is further evidence of how pandemic-related disruptions to education and health care could have lingering consequences for children.”

Kindergarten enrollment also fell by around 10 per cent, Dr Peacock said, meaning around 400,000 additional children who were due to start school but did not may also have fallen behind in routine vaccinations.

Some states have seen dramatic declines in coverage, while others have remained more stable. Maryland, for example, reported about a 10% decline in measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine coverage from the 2019-20 to 2020-21 school year among kindergartners. Wisconsin, Georgia, Wyoming and Kentucky all reported declines of around 5%.

Idaho had one of the lowest levels of coverage in the 2020-21 school year with the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, at 86.5%.

The CDC said coverage has dropped in the majority of states. Virginia, Kansas and Alabama were among a small number of states that reported higher levels of measles, mumps and rubella vaccination coverage in the past school year.

CDC scientists pointed out that additional barriers to reporting vaccination data during the pandemic, including reduced staffing and difficulties collecting information from parents, may also have artificially lowered recorded coverage levels at some locations.

Nationally, immunization coverage fell just below 94% for the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine; vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis; and for the varicella vaccine, the CDC said. The United States already had nearly lost its status as a country that had eliminated measles in 2019. During this year, the country experienced an unusually high number of measles outbreaks in communities where vaccination levels had dropped.

CDC scientists attributed the drop in coverage in part to missed child health checks, which pediatricians said some families were avoiding during the pandemic for fear of coming into contact with children with Covid. The agency said schooling disruptions, including the relaxation of vaccination requirements for remote learners and heavy demands placed on school nurses, could also have contributed to reduced vaccinations.

Pediatricians said in interviews that these issues have also been met with growing levels of anti-vaccine misinformation aimed at coronavirus injections, which they say have also caused greater resistance to regular vaccines.

“There’s a higher proportion of parents questioning routine vaccines,” said Dr. Jason V. Terk, a pediatrician practicing in a suburb of Dallas who also serves as a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“The experience of the pandemic and the agenda-driven misinformation that has been disseminated in relation to Covid vaccines,” he added, has “fueled the fire of distrust and skepticism that is really kind of the new pandemic of routine vaccine hesitancy.”

Public health experts have also noted a move by some state legislatures to create new restrictions on the requirement of vaccinesalthough they said many bills were still pending.

The CDC study found no evidence of an increase in the number of families requesting exemptions during the pandemic: it reported that the percentage of kindergarten children receiving an exemption for one or more required vaccines was 2.2% in 2020-21, which is similar to the figure reported a year earlier. .

The agency said it estimated vaccination coverage based on tallies provided by federally funded vaccination programs that work with schools and local education departments to review the vaccination and exemption status of children. students. He noted that the pandemic has at times interfered with immunization data collection and reporting efforts and that national coverage estimates for 2020-21 only included 47 of 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Signs of declining childhood immunization rates had appeared earlier in the pandemicincluding reducing state vaccine orders under a federally funded program for uninsured patients.

Dr. Gary Kirkilas, a pediatrician in Phoenix who cares for patients whose families are often poor or homeless, said conversations about vaccines with families of children entering kindergarten are often straightforward. After all, he said, the shots needed at this age are often booster doses of vaccines given at a younger age.

But he said vaccinating children from transient families, unaccustomed to seeing doctors regularly or distrustful of the medical community required a special level of attention. Skipping children’s health checks during the pandemic has exacerbated these problems, Dr. Kirkilas said.

And while one segment of families arrived eager for their children to receive vaccines to protect against Covid and other illnesses, another was more resilient than ever.

“All the rumblings about vaccines for children and the misinformation that was going on at the time – it kind of amplified this particular segment of families, where ‘I’m suspicious of the flu vaccine and then I’m also suspicious of the Covid vaccine and maybe I’m starting to be wary of vaccines in general,” he said.

CDC scientists said they hope the return of in-person schooling will speed efforts to catch up with children on routine vaccines. They encouraged schools to send reminders to families whose children were late and said doctors’ offices should alert families that children needed extra injections.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Routine childhood vaccinations in the United States have slipped during the pandemic
Routine childhood vaccinations in the United States have slipped during the pandemic
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