The rate of routine childhood vaccinations has significantly dropped during the pandemic, making kids more vulnerable to contract preventable diseases like mumps, chickenpox, measles, or whooping cough.
In a study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, experts from the HealthPartners Institute in Minneapolis said that the routine childhood vaccinations trend was lower in 2020 than in 2019.
Only 57 to 74 percent of children between the ages of seven to 18 months old were up-to-date on their vaccinations compared to 61 to 81 percent of babies in 2019.
Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also indicated a gap of 12.9 million routine childhood vaccinations between 2020 to 2021. Dr. Melinda Wharton, the director of the Vaccine Policy under CDC, acknowledged that while COVID-19 disruption has had many children missing out on their vaccinations, the kids need to get caught up on these medical routines as in-person classes resume.
"We can all do our part to help, whether we're parents making sure our children are up to date, or healthcare professionals checking patient records and calling families to schedule appointments," Wharton said.
Parents and Pediatricians Worry About Missing Vaccinations
Ohio mom Brenda Gibbner, who has a kindergartener and a toddler, expressed concerns about the children missing their vaccinations. She believes that all vaccines are necessary to protect the kids who can't get it due to a serious illness, like Gibbner's friend whose child has a heart defect.
The mom is set to bring her five-year-old child to the doctor to get a vaccination follow-up, and she urged other parents to do the same. Gibbner also reflected on the sad and "ridiculous" state of vaccination in the country, as it has become "politicized."
Dr. Derek McClellan, a pediatrician with Central Ohio Primary Care, said that the drop in vaccination was brought on after most clinics and services shut down because of COVID-19. However, vaccine hesitancy has also been increasing in America.
However, he assured parents that routine childhood vaccinations are backed by decades of studies and high success rates that have eradicated diseases before. Over the summer, McClellan and 90 other pediatricians in the Central Ohio Primary Care network have been facilitating routine childhood vaccinations required in most schools.
However, some families are still coming in for pediatric immunizations when it's almost close to winter. To meet the community's needs, public health centers had pulled back some workers on COVID-19 sites and re-assigned them for child immunizations.
The CDC also advised parents to contact their pediatrician as soon as possible to schedule a check-up and to get their children on track with their vaccinations, including the flu shots.
Boosting the Immune System from COVID-19
A study published in the Med Hypotheses journal showed that routine childhood vaccinations could help boost the children's immune system from COVID-19. Experts learned that certain pathogens not commonly targeted by other vaccines could provide cross-immunity from the coronavirus.
The experts believed that this could be why a majority of the kids develop just mild forms of COVID-19 if they become infected. Simply put, the routine immunizations they've had as a baby or toddler also protected them from the deadly SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the COVID disease. However, the experts also said that this should not replace the actual COVID-19 vaccines that will be given to younger children once they receive approval.
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