Health Promotion Supervisor
Center for Public Affairs
Washington State Department of Health
Due to concerns about COVID-19, many families have delayed coming in for well child visits and immunizations. Both in Washington and nationally, the number of immunizations given to children took a significant downturn starting in March. While we’ve been slowly trending back up the past couple of months, we are still far below average. This leaves infants and children vulnerable to other diseases, especially as people begin gathering again.
Vaccinating infants and young children on time is the best way to protect them from 14 serious and preventable diseases. Also, 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 want children to be ready for school in the fall as well. Even students attending school online due to COVID-19 need to meet the state’s immunization requirements.
You can help. Please continue vaccination visits during this time, and call in any patients that have missed appointments or are behind on immunizations. Tell families, especially our most vulnerable populations, that it’s safe to come in for well child visits and immunizations and why it’s important to do so.
What Can You Do?
We need the help of health care providers to keep our kids safe. Ask your patients who have missed well-child appointments and vaccinations to come in. If you can’t bring in all children and teens, then prioritize care and vaccination of infants and young children (0 to 24 months old), followed by children 4 to 6 years old. Find more guidance here.
Parents may be nervous about taking kids in to a clinic. But there are many safe ways to continue vaccinating patients in the office.
- Tell families it’s important to come in. Make a plan with them for appointments.
- Reassure patients and parents. Share your safety story; what is your clinic doing to keep them safe?
- Be vocal in your support of immunizations.
- Bring in patients. Use standing orders, treat every visit as a vaccination visit, and use reminder/recall tools in your EHR or in the Washington Immunization Information System (IIS).
Plan for Safety
- Pick strategies that will help you lessen the risks of COVID-19 in your facility while providing well-child and vaccination visits. Find suggested safety strategies here.
- Follow safety and protective equipment guidance from CDC and OSHA for your staff.
- Make a plan to support vulnerable populations.
- WCAAP-DOH Reminder-Recall Webinar
- WCAAP’s Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Vaccinated campaign webpage has flyers and other resources you can use and share.
- Find more information, including a Q&A and a parent flyer available in nine languages, at immunitycommunitywa.org/covid-19-and-immunizations.