CDC: Significant drop in routine child, adolescent vaccinations early in pandemic

The CDC documented a significant drop in routine child and adolescent vaccinations across 10 jurisdictions in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, spurring concerns of potential outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases.

The study released Thursday calculated the median weekly percent decrease in vaccinations between March and May 2020, compared to the same period before the pandemic in 2018 and 2019. HPV vaccinations among 13- to 17-year-olds saw the largest drop with a median of 71.3 percent less shots in 2020 compared to the two previous years.

Vaccinations did pick up between June and September 2020, once most state stay-at-home orders ended, but not at a high enough rate to make up for the drop off in the earlier months of the pandemic.

What does it mean: The agency emphasized that more routine vaccinations will be needed as schools reopen for full in-person learning in order to stop vaccine-preventable diseases from spreading among children.

The results prompted the researchers to call on health care providers to examine the vaccination status of all pediatric patients and get in touch with those who are behind schedule to get their shots.

“This lag in catch-up vaccination might pose a serious public health threat that would result in vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks, especially in schools that have reopened for in-person learning,” the research said.