Don’t Forget About Routine Immunizations

As parents and children across the country prepare to head back to school, routine childhood immunizations should be at the top of their list.  The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a global decrease in routine immunizations.  During the early days of the pandemic, the number of kindergarten children who were up to date on their vaccines decreased by over 70%.  With the removal of restrictions and a return in-person education, those rates have significantly improved but are not back to pre-pandemic levels. Decreased immunization rates are more concerning considering recent outbreaks of measles, meningitis, and a new case of polio in New York (the first in over ten years).
A recent study published in Pediatrics demonstrated that routine childhood vaccines prevented more than 24 million illnesses in 2019.  In a separate study, the same group looked at the impact of childhood vaccination over the lifespan of people born in 2017. They estimated vaccines will prevent 17.8 million cases of disease and more than 31,000 deaths for that group. Vaccines also will save $55.1 billion in societal costs and $13.7 billion in health care payer costs.
According to the WHO and UNICEF, 25 million children missed vaccinations in 2021.   As a mother, I am grateful to live in a country where vaccines are safe and readily available.  Pediatric health care providers are happy to review a child’s vaccine records and answer questions about specific vaccine requirements.  Local health departments and community health centers hold clinics dedicated to childhood immunizations.  We all want our students to be happy, healthy, and ready to learn this fall.  Don’t wait…VACCINATE.