Children behind on routine vaccinations could interrupt COVID-19 vaccine rollout, physicians say

With the possibility of COVID-19 vaccines soon becoming available to young children, some pediatricians are worried about how they'll balance getting children scheduled for the shot with the backlog of children who fell behind on other routine vaccines during earlier stages of the pandemic, CNN reported May 10. 

"It's been documented over the past year that routine childhood immunizations have declined because people weren't going for well-child exams," Jill Rosenthal, senior program director at the National Academy for State Health Policy, told CNN. "People were avoiding health settings when not absolutely necessary, and so those rates dipped."

To avoid further backlogs and scheduling conflicts, pediatricians are urging parents to get their kids up to date with childhood immunizations ahead of the COVID-19 vaccine being authorized for younger children.

The FDA on May 10 authorized Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to be used in children ages 12 to 15, with the company planning to apply in September for emergency authorization for its vaccine to be administered to children aged 2-11. 

"It's really important that parents now are choosing to get their children caught up on other vaccines that they may have had to miss, even if they're under age 12," Lisa Costello, MD, pediatrician at West Virginia University Medicine Children's Hospital in Morgantown, told CNN

Further complicating backlogs on routine childhood immunizations is a two-week period in between the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine and any others, as recommended by the CDC.

Even without appointments for young children to get the COVID-19 vaccine on the calendar, many pediatric practices are having trouble catching up with delayed routine immunizations. 

"The problem is that because we're behind, you have to go to 130 percent of normal," Christoph Diasio, MD, a pediatrician in Southern Pines, N.C., told the news outlet, adding that COVID-19 safety precautions further exacerbate the challenge. "Those are good, solid public health measures to prevent contagion at the doctor's office, but they also have the net effect of making it very difficult to catch up on some of these things." 


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