Routine children’s vaccinations urged amid decline

Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 1:28 PM CDT
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(CNN) - As students return to school, experts are urging parents to get routine vaccinations for their children amid an overall vaccine decline across the United States in the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

”If you think back over time, there were diseases like measles, mumps, chicken pox, whooping cough were fairly common. We no longer see these diseases that often and that’s because of our immunization program,” pediatrician Dr. Julie Morita said.

In data released by the CDC in April, researchers compared state and local immunization programs across the country.

In the 2020 to 2021 school year, they found vaccination coverage decreased by about 1% for all vaccines compared to the school year before.

”That’s the first time we’ve seen a dip like this in a long time,” Morita said.

Morita, who is also a member of the CDC Advisory Committee to the Director, says in order to keep vaccine preventable diseases at bay, people have to keep the level of routine vaccinations high.

She says part of the decrease came from doctor’s offices not being open during the height of the pandemic.

”But on top of that, there was a bit of spillover because parents had questions and concerns about the COVID vaccines. They seemed relatively new and there were questions about safety and the effectiveness of the vaccines and there may have been a bit of spillover into the other routinely recommended childhood vaccines,” Morita said. “While we have strong evidence that the COVID vaccines are safe and effective, there’s even more evidence and even longer duration of use of these other vaccines, so we know they are safe and effective and they prevent really serious diseases.”

CDC researchers say enforcing vaccination policies and follow-up with undervaccinated students are key to improving vaccination rates.