UPDATED 5:16 PM PT — Wednesday, May 20, 2020
The Centers for Disease Control has reported a decline in the number of children receiving vaccine shots for diseases like measles and whooping cough. Health officials are worried falling rates could raise the possibility of an additional health crisis amid the coronavirus pandemic.
According to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, the number of doses administered from late March to early May dropped 63% and saw a greater decline in children over 2-years-old.
The CDC has suggested declines will likely continue across the country, as many parents have been reluctant to schedule doctor visits due to fears about coronavirus.
“Doctor’s offices have been closed in so many cases, families are staying home, we’ve had to focus on the most urgent needs in health care throughout,” explained de Blasio. “It makes sense that even parents, grandparents, other guardians, family members who wanted to get a child vaccinated, might not have known where to turn or might have been hesitant to get it done, given everything else going on.”
In Dallas, Dr. Karen McClard confirmed her pediatric clinic has also seen both a decline in patients and children receiving vaccines.
“There were several days where we had very few people coming in for checkups, especially the older kids,” she said. “What I’m really seeing are the kids that are only getting shots once a year, those kids are really falling behind.”
Doctors have said many facilities are taking strict precautions and reassured it’s still safe to schedule appointments. Without proper vaccinations, health officials fear herd immunity among children will be less effective come flu season.
“Practices are doing temperature checks, wearing masks just the way that we would in the grocery store,” said Dr. Edith Dietz. “If we back down that essential part of our health care, then we are putting ourselves at risk for a whole other outbreak, especially once the schools open.”
According to the CDC, once social distancing orders are relaxed, those without immunizations will once again be at risk. Doctors have urged parents to check their children’s records to ensure they’re protected before the fall.