TL;DR: Many kids missed vaccines during the pandemic and we need to get kids caught up now! Vaccines are incredibly important to prevent serious childhood illness and save lives.
Vaccination rates decreased during the height of the pandemic and have not yet caught up. The CDC just released a report looking at kindergarteners in the 2020-21 school year. They found that overall, vaccination coverage dropped from about 95% to 94% (which doesn’t seem like a ton until we remember that there are millions of kindergarten age kids in the US). Coverage exceeded 95% in only 16 states and was <90% in 7 states and Washington DC. Roughly 35,000 MORE kids across the US entered kindergarten without being completely vaccinated. And this is probably an underestimate. There were also about 400,000 less kids enrolled in kindergarten, and typically, kids going to kindergarten have a higher vaccination rate than kids who don’t go to kindergarten.
This CDC report is consistent with what we are seeing for kids of all ages. In 2020, there was a 15% drop in orders for the Vaccines for Children Program, a federally funded program that provides vaccines for kids at no cost who might otherwise not get vaccinated. In 2021, orders were still 7% down from pre-pandemic levels. In Florida, rates for 2-year-old immunizations in country-run facilities dropped from 92.1% in 2019 to 79.3% in 2021. Tennessee saw a 14% drop in vaccine doses given to kids under 2 in 2020 and 2021 compared to pre-pandemic vaccination rates.
Low rates of vaccinations increase the risk of outbreaks of vaccine preventable illnesses (like measles) that can cause long lasting health consequences for children and can even result in death. Vaccination is a critical tool to help keep our kids safe and healthy. The CDC estimates that vaccinating kids born between 1994 and 2018 in the US alone prevents 419 million illnesses, 26.8 million hospitalizations, and 936,000 deaths.
Talk with your kiddo’s primary care clinician about getting caught up on vaccines and encourage others to do the same. Primary care clinicians will happily answer your questions and provide great resources on vaccines. If you have any specific questions about vaccines, please submit your question to our question box here.
Stay safe. Stay sane. Catch up on vaccines!
Those Nerdy Girls
Links and Resources:CDC Vaccination Coverage of Kindergarten Age Kids