CDC: Drop in pediatric vaccinations amid pandemic may pose 'serious public health threat'

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Many children are still behind on routine vaccinations after vaccination levels dropped dramatically during the early months of the pandemic, according to CDC data published June 10. The vaccination drop may raise the risk of other outbreaks that could derail school reopenings, the CDC said.

CDC researchers analyzed data from 10 jurisdictions between March and May 2020 and found that shots for children and teens were substantially lower for routine vaccinations — including DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis), measles and HPV — across all age groups, compared to the same three-month period in 2018 and 2019.

The drop in HPV vaccinations is especially worrisome, experts say. Instead of showing up immediately, HPV infections can take years to develop into cancer, according to the CDC.

After some stay-at-home orders were lifted last summer, weekly routine pediatric vaccine doses increased in most areas, even surpassing pre-pandemic levels in some places. However, the rebound "was not sufficient to achieve the catch-up vaccination needed to address the many months when children missed routine vaccination," the CDC said. Furthermore, the lag may pose "a serious public health threat that would result in vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks, especially in schools that have reopened for in-person learning," according to the CDC.

The CDC recommends providers give COVID-19 vaccines on the same day as other vaccines, revising its guidance last month to allow for the shot to be given at the same time as others.

 

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