The statewide Stay-at-Home order has helped slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it has also resulted in some children missing their recommended vaccines.
In California and across the U.S., recent data show troubling decreases in childhood vaccination, leaving many children unprotected. In comparison to April 2019, in April 2020, the number of shots given to children 0 through 18 years old in California decreased by more than 40 percent.
“This pandemic has disrupted so much, including how we’re seeking preventive health care services,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, Director of the California Department of Public Health and State Health Officer. “During and after the pandemic, unvaccinated infants and children will be more vulnerable to dangerous diseases like measles and whooping cough. It’s so important that parents make sure their children are up-to-date on their immunizations.”
It is recommended that parents contact their child’s doctor if they have any concerns about visiting the office. Most providers have additional safety measures in place to protect patients when visiting the clinic, such as separating sick and well children. Some clinics offer curbside clinics, where you can get care in or near your car. If your child’s healthcare provider is currently limiting well visits or vaccinations, ask about plans to catch your child up on vaccinations.
Immunizations are also recommended for pregnant women to protect the mother and newborn infant. Check with your prenatal care provider about the timing of prenatal immunizations.
For those who are out of work or without health insurance, it’s important to know you can still get your child vaccinated. The Vaccines for Children (VFC) program offers free vaccines to families who cannot afford to pay for their children’s vaccines (through 19 years of age). Talk to your healthcare provider to find out if they are a VFC provider.