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Report: Children Missed 11 Million Routine Vaccinations amid COVID-19

New report highlights importance of catching up on missed vaccinations

August 02, 2021

Chalkboard message to sign up for vaccinationAs children and their families prepare to head back to school, public health officials are offering a friendly reminder about the importance of childhood vaccinations.

A new research brief published last month indicated that more than 11 million routine childhood vaccinations were missed during the pandemic, leaving more children unprotected from vaccine-preventable diseases such as the measles, whooping cough, and the mumps.

The research brief from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families identifies several reasons for the decline in routine vaccinations, including missed well-child visits due to the pandemic and the economic fallout from COVID-19. These challenges have amplified concerning vaccine disparities among low-income families and families of color, the report notes.

“Without an intentional effort to get childhood vaccines on track, the risk of a secondary outbreak from a preventable infectious disease on top of the current pandemic remains high,” AAP President Lee Savio Beers, MD, FAAP, said in a statement. “Parents: reach out to your children’s pediatrician to catch up on vaccinations before the school year begins.”

The key figures in the report:

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that orders for all non-influenza childhood vaccines decreased by about 11.7 million doses
  • Researchers indicate a 27 percent decline in pediatric office visits during 2020
  • Disparities along socioeconomic, insurance status, and racial lines continue to exist, with only 62 percent of children below poverty having received the recommended vaccines, compared to 74.1 percent of all other children. Black, non-Hispanic (65.8%) and Hispanic (67.8%) children had vaccination rates that fell below the national average (70.5%)

The report calls for state, local, and federal leaders to develop strategies to promote childhood vaccinations, working with trusted community partners to help ensure all children are able to receive their vaccines on schedule.

“Ensuring children and adolescents are fully vaccinated will help prevent an outbreak of diseases such as measles, which could overwhelm an already over-burdened public health system,” the report says. “Trusted messengers should be deployed to inform families about the efficacy and safety of childhood vaccines and the importance of catching up on missed doses immediately.”

HAP joins organizations across the country raising awareness about this important issue. Last year, HAP launched a campaign reminding all Pennsylvanians about the importance of maintaining their routine care amid the pandemic.

The report is available online.