Parents urged to plan as they schedule COVID-19 and childhood vaccines

Many children still need to get caught up on typical pediatric vaccines and in addition a COVID-19 vaccine is expected to be authorized soon as an option for children as young as 12.

This combination has physicians urging parents to plan ahead to have time for all the care their child needs, because other vaccinations are not recommended 14 days before or after a COVID-19 vaccine.

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“We’re trying to make sure parents are aware of this,” said Melissa Wervey Arnold, CEO of the Ohio Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics.

Arnold said for now this applies to teens 16 and up, but her members are anticipating any day now that the CDC and FDA will authorize the Pfizer vaccine for children 12 to 15 as well.

She said the latest data indicates many of these children need to get caught back up on adolescent vaccines.

“We are seeing some vaccines especially for the older kids down as much as 21%,” Arnold said, with national data measuring TDAP, HPV and even measles down 21%.

She said if with parents are trying to get kids caught up with vaccines at the same time as they are trying to get their child a COVID-19 vaccine all before the new school year “we might have a problem just getting them all in for all their appointments.”

Outpatient pediatric visits fell dramatically in March and April of 2020, the CDC published, and as a result, childhood vaccination uptake fell dramatically in the same period.

It is not clear the extent to which the decline in vaccination uptake was a result of parent and patient behavior versus the lack of vaccination services from traditional vaccination providers, such as primary care providers, the CDC stated.

Ohio Medicaid and local providers have continued to work through the year on getting kids caught up.

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This includes a series of clinics this week at the Dayton Public Schools’ clinic in the Roosevelt school, operated by Five Rivers Health Centers. The clinics have vaccines for 4- to 6-year-olds but also care like lead screenings and well child exams.

“During the pandemic, many parents have been challenged to get their little ones to the doctor for the necessary shots and screenings,” said Julie Wickline, clinical services director at Five Rivers Health Centers. “We are working together to provide an easy, convenient opportunity for families to get their 4- to 6-year-olds in and caught up on these important things.”

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