Routine immunizations for children down more than 50%

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, highlighting the importance of on-time vaccinations to protect people of all ages against vaccine-preventable diseases.

With the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alabama Department of Public Health reports Alabama pediatric and family medical providers have observed a dramatic decline in child routine immunizations.

“Infants, toddlers and teens across the state have experienced over 50% decrease in the number of vaccines administered from March 1, 2020, to May 1, 2021, compared to 2019 rates,” ADPH and Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics officials stated. “This has disproportionately impacted immunization coverage rates among individuals ages 0 to 18, placing them at an increased risk of exposure to vaccine-preventable diseases.”

The National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC), in collaboration with U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and ADPH, stresses the value of vaccination across a person's lifespan. While the focus recently has been towards the COVID-19 vaccination, it is important to remember there are still other illnesses out there that require immunization.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (APP) recommends children continue to see their local providers for checkups and routinely recommended vaccinations.

Per the AAP, among children born from 1994 to 2018, vaccinations will prevent an estimated 936,000 early deaths, 8 million hospitalizations and 419 million illnesses.

Routine vaccinations during childhood protect against the following 14 diseases which used to be prevalent in the United States: Chickenpox, Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hib, HPV, Measles, Meningococcal, Influenza, Mumps, Polio, Pneumococcal, Rotavirus, Rebella, Tetanus and Whooping Cough.

With children returning to in-person learning and play, the AAP reiterates the importance of making sure they’ve had their regular checkups and are on track with routine recommended vaccination.

Among the many reasons vaccines should no longer be delayed, consider the following:

• Before the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately 50,000 US adults died each year from vaccine-preventable diseases.

• Disease not only directly impacts individuals and families health it can also be a financial burden.

If you have questions consult with your local pediatrician or medical provider about staying up to date on regular checkups and vaccinations.

In observance of NIAM, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey continues to encourage Alabaminans to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Her message remains simple and consistent, “If you can get the shot, roll up your sleeve and get one.”

For more information about National Immunization Awareness Month visit www.aap.org, www.cdc.gov and www.alabamapublichealth.gov/imm.

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