CDC warns of big drop in routine vaccinations for children as parents shun doctors' offices


Alarmed by a dramatic drop in routine pediatric vaccinations since the start of the coronavirus scare, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week issued an urgent call to parents to take their children to the doctor for routine well-child checkups and vaccinations.

Researchers recently compared orders for federally funded vaccines for the first four months of the year with the same period last year and found an overall decline of 2.5 million doses in orders for routine non-influenza pediatric vaccines. Children ages 2 and older are receiving measles vaccines at a rate far below normal, the researchers found, noting that more than 2,500 measles vaccines were ordered the week of March 2 — before the coronavirus emergency was declared — compared with approximately 250 beginning the week of March 23, after the emergency order to stay at home was issued.

Charlotte Stewart, a mother of two who lives in Maryland, said her 2-year-old son, William, is about six months late getting five vaccines he needs. Stewart, who noted she is a strong proponent of vaccination, said she has been trying to find a way to get him vaccinated safely.

iStock/Getty Images; digitally enhanced by Yahoo News.
iStock/Getty Images; digitally enhanced by Yahoo News

“A medical facility right now? Unless my kids were sick I’m not comfortable bringing them in, because I don’t know — nobody knows who has what,” Stewart told Yahoo News in an interview. “It is nerve-racking to bring my currently perfectly healthy children into an environment where they may catch something.”

Stewart said she is worried about letting William fall further behind in his vaccination schedule, so she is working hard to find a way to vaccinate him without exposing him to the coronavirus.

“I’m gonna need to figure this out, because I definitely don’t want him to be unvaccinated by any means,” Stewart said, mentioning that a friend told her a nearby pediatrician has a mobile truck making curbside visits to administer vaccines.

On its Facebook page, Fairfax Pediatric Associates, a pediatric practice not far from Stewart, is advertising that it has “instituted a combination of telemedicine and a mobile van visit coming to your home to complete the exam and administer any necessary vaccinations.”

Lauren Cialone, a first-time mother in Washington, D.C., said she took her newborn son, Teddy, to get his 3-month vaccines even though she was worried about going into a doctor’s office with him. She briefly considered changing pediatricians because another nearby doctor is making coronavirus house calls for vaccinations, but she decided to instead stay with her pediatrician and bring Teddy in for his shots in the safest manner possible.

“I considered waiting, and I thought if this were something that would be two to four weeks, that wouldn’t be a big deal,” Cialone said. “I knew it would just be a long time, and vaccines are really important. I called the doctor’s office twice to go over what they were doing to have additional protocols and precautionary measures in place.”

Cialone is happy she kept her cool. Teddy got his shots, they didn’t see anyone in the doctor’s office other than medical workers, and no one got sick. “I was comfortable,” she said with relief.


Click here for the latest coronavirus news and updates. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please refer to the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides.

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