The Grapevine

Childhood Vaccinations In US Drop Over Coronavirus Fears

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that the number of vaccinated children dropped by 22 percent in Michigan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It warned numbers have also been declining in other parts of the U.S., which means more kids are at risk of getting diseases besides coronavirus. 

Health care services became more difficult to access because of the pandemic. People expressed fear of contracting COVID-19 while others were affected by strict lockdown measures, which both potentially contributed to the recent decrease in children getting vaccines.

In Michigan, the CDC found that the number of non-flu vaccine doses provided to children dropped by 22 percent. The agency looked at the state’s vaccine information system collected earlier in May, CNN reported Monday.

The report shows that vaccine doses administered to children below two years old decreased by 16 percent. Less than half of 5-month-olds in Michigan received their vaccines this May. 

There was also a decline in vaccination for children enrolled in Medicaid. CDC said only 35 percent of 7-month-olds under the program were up-to-date on their vaccines compared to 55 percent of children outside the program.

"The observed declines in vaccination coverage might leave young children and communities vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles," researchers from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Immunization Action Coalition in Minnesota and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said in the study.

However, CDC noted the paper does not suggest that Michigan currently has worse rates of vaccinated children. The study comes after the agency reported childhood vaccinations decreased across the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The agency found a "notable decrease" in the number of vaccines ordered through a federal program that immunizes half of all kids in the country. Researchers of the Michigan study said citizens may continue to struggle to access health care services because of existing measures aimed at managing the coronavirus.

The team then provided a list of strategies that may help health care providers continue giving necessary vaccines to children while the government manages the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Strategies to maintain immunization services include dedicating specific clinics, rooms or buildings for sick visits and well visits; reducing the number of patients on-site at any one time; closing waiting rooms or registration areas, and having patients check in by phone and receive vaccinations from their vehicles in the parking lot," the researchers said.

Flu vaccine Health care experts recommend that everyone 6 months and older – including the elderly, chronically ill people, and expectant mothers – receive the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available. U.S. Department of Defense

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