Health Promotion Supervisor
Center for Public Affairs
Washington State Department of Health
The number of immunizations given to children is dropping during the COVID-19 pandemic, both in Washington and nationally. This leaves children and communities at risk.
Providers in Washington’s Childhood Vaccine Program reported they administered 30 percent fewer vaccines to 0-18 year olds in March of this year compared with the same month in previous years. In April, preliminarily we are seeing a 42 percent decrease, but that number may change as April data continue to be reported.
We are concerned that children aren’t getting all the vaccines they need to protect them. Slowing or stopping access to immunizations increases the risk that we could see an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease. Adding more outbreaks on top of COVID-19 not only would put more people’s health at risk, it also could overload the health care system.
We need the help of health care providers to keep our kids safe. Providers should ask their patients who have missed well-child appointments and vaccinations to come in. Prioritize care and vaccination of infants and young children (0 to 24 months of age), followed by children age 4 to 6 years. Find more guidance here.
Parents and guardians should make an appointment right away for any missed immunizations. Parents may be nervous about taking kids in to a clinic. But health care providers are making clinics safe for families to visit. Talk to your doctor, nurse, or clinic about ways you can get vaccinated. Read more information for parents and caregivers here.