The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued a statement regarding recent data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about a decline in pediatric vaccination during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. 

The impact of the pandemic on pediatric vaccination was examined in a recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Using data from the CDC’s Vaccine Tracking System and Vaccine Safety Datalink, researchers were able to assess a decline in routine pediatric vaccine ordering, as well as in administered doses.    

“As a pediatrician, this is incredibly worrisome,” said Sally Goza, MD, FAAP, president of the APP. “Immunizing infants, children and adolescents is important, and should not be delayed.”

To help keep children protected, the AAP has published new guidelines for managing well-care visits safely and efficiently during the pandemic. Some of the recommendations include having in-person visits whenever possible, but also implementing telehealth where appropriate. Missed visits should be noted and patients should be contacted to schedule in person appointments. According to the guidance,”pediatricians should work with families to bring children up to date as quickly as possible.”

In addition, safety measures should be implemented in the office and these strategies should be communicated to families. Some of these measures can include scheduling well visits and sick visits at different times of the day, as well as separating patients by placing sick children in different areas of the office or in a different office location, if possible. The guidelines also recommend collaborating with providers in the community to identify locations for providing well visits.

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“As social distancing restrictions begin to lift around the country and people begin to circulate, children and teens who are not vaccinated will be at higher risk for contracting a disease that could be prevented by a vaccine,” said Goza. “While we wait for scientists and doctors to develop a vaccine for coronavirus, let’s work together to protect our children in every way that we can, today.”

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