Parents should contact pediatricians now for annual physicals, experts say, after pandemic-related closures spurred a marked decline in children’s routine immunizations.
“Vaccines are a public health strategy that prevent disease,” Linda Mendonca, president of the National Association of School Nurses, told Fox News. “It is concerning that students are behind on getting these preventable disease vaccines.”
CORONAVIRUS HAS CAUSED MILLIONS OF CHILDREN TO MISS ROUTINE VACCINATIONS, DATA SHOWS
An updated vaccine claims-based analysis released by the healthcare consulting firm Avalere for September-November 2020 found persistent declines in the number of administered vaccines among adolescents and adults, finding an up to 35% decline in non-flu vaccine given to adolescents, and an up to 40% drop in shots administered among adults in 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, with an estimated 26 million missed doses across both age groups from January-November 2020.
“There’s a long list of reasons why many people just didn’t make it to the doctor’s office and we’re seeing this now in kids as they head back to school and the effects of it,” Dr. Tanya Altmann, LA-based pediatrician and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, told Fox News. “For some, it’s simply missed immunizations, but for others, there are conditions that we missed picking up whether it was talking to the parents about weight issues, scoliosis, anxiety or asthma.”
1 IN 3 AMERICANS HAD COVID-19 BY END OF 2020, STUDY SAYS
By November 2020, Blue Cross Blue Shield, said to insure 1 in 3 Americans, noted an up to 26% drop in vaccinations for MMR, DTaP and polio between January- September 2020, and added that millions of missed vaccinations lowers community protections against those diseases and heightens the risk of measles and whooping cough outbreaks.
Altmann said most pediatric practices in the LA-area are busier than ever given the unusual summertime uptick of certain respiratory illnesses and parents seeking medical attention for children presenting suspected COVID-like symptoms. Pediatricians and educators are scrambling to ensure that backlogs don’t keep kids from school or leave them vulnerable to contagious diseases.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.