Routine vaccination should not be delayed due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, according to interim guidance released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The new guidance emphasizes the importance of immunizing individuals against vaccine-preventable diseases according to recommended CDC immunization schedules in order to prevent outbreaks that may further strain the healthcare system. According to the Agency, routine vaccination should not be delayed in children, adolescents, or adults (including pregnant women). The only exception to this recommendation is for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, in which vaccination should be deferred until they have met criteria to discontinue isolation.
Additionally, vaccines that are overdue should be administered as soon as possible. Healthcare providers should identify patients who have missed recommended vaccines and reach out to schedule in-person appointments to ensure vaccines are received. The guidance also notes the importance of promoting vaccination against influenza to all eligible patients this upcoming season in order to reduce the impact of respiratory illnesses and protect vulnerable populations.
Infection prevention practices should be utilized by all vaccine administration locations in order to prevent the asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19 while ensuring the safe delivery of vaccines. These include physical distancing, hand and respiratory hygiene, use of face coverings, and surface decontamination. Patients should be screened for symptoms and potential contact with COVID-19. Installing physical barriers, requiring eye protection (based on the level of community transmission) and wearing gloves also helps to ensure the safe delivery of care.
The guidance also outlines additional precautions that should be considered by alternative vaccination sites, including providing specific appointment times, ensuring the presence of an adequate amount of staff and resources for quick clinic flow, limiting overall number of attendees, using a large space with a unidirectional flow, and designating areas for high-risk patients or patient monitoring.
For more information visit cdc.gov.