In a Pandemic, Need Remains for Routine Vaccinations
By GEEARS: Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students
Normally at this time of year, parents of young children would be preparing for the start of the school year. They might be shopping to the back-to-school sales, or simply easing their young ones out of their summer routines to prepare to meet their new teachers and classmates. But these are anything but normal times, and preschools through twelfth grade programs throughout the state of Georgia are either working out how best to provide in-person teaching safely or figuring out how to provide a more robust and equitable virtual program.
What hasn’t changed is the need for all children to visit their pediatrician for routine vaccinations, whether they are entering school or a child care program. Maintaining herd immunity against diseases like the measles or whopping cough still requires most children to receive their vaccinations.
However, according to studies from the Centers for Disease Control, vaccinations dropped during the spring months when many states were under lockdown orders. The CDC found that from mid-March to mid-April, doctors in the Vaccines for Children program ordered 2.5 million fewer doses of vaccines, and 250,000 fewer doses of measles-containing vaccines, compared the previous year. Other reports have found the vaccination numbers have remained below normal during the early summer.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has called on parents to schedule vaccines, as well as check-ups for physical exams and developmental screenings, for children of all ages.
“Parents have a lot on their minds right now. We want them to know pediatricians are open for business, and we are ready to schedule visits to make sure their children are fully immunized,” said AAP President Sally Goza, MD, FAAP. “These visits are so important for other reasons, too, including making sure children’s development is on track and checking on other health concerns while families have been social distancing. Pediatricians want to see children now, and make sure they are healthy and ok.”
The GEEARS team is focused on ensuring young children throughout Georgia have access to consistent preventative health services and screenings, as well as early interventions for developmental and social-emotional delays. The first five years of life are the most important for a child’s future health, and children with access to these early childhood medical visits are less likely to have chronic conditions later in life.
As part of the PAACT: Promise All Atlanta Children Thrive initiative, we have teamed up with Atlanta community partners to bring free school-required immunizations to Atlanta’s Westside. McDonald Care Mobile®, a program of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities, is bringing immunizations to kids and teens ages 4 and up in the Westside from July 27 to August 8.
The goal is to make sure Atlanta families stay on top their regular school-required immunizations to prevent the outbreak of another disease. The immunizations are free. More info on the program dates and locations can be found here.
Our mission to ensure every child in Atlanta, and throughout the state of Georgia, has access to the health care they need is more important than ever. The time is now to reduce preventable disease outbreaks through immunizations, especially as the fight against COVID-19 continues and the flu season fast approaches.