Fewer children updating vaccinations during the pandemic

SPOKANE, Wash. — While you’re making a checklist of what your kids need to go back to class soon, don’t forget to update their immunization records.

Data from the Washington Department of Health (DOH) shows vaccinations for kids are lagging behind compared to past years. It’s not the COVID vaccine, but rather other vaccines kids need to have to attend school such as the mumps, measles and rubella vaccine, chicken pox, etc.

To be able to walk the school halls, kids have to be up to date with their vaccines.

“Going into 6th grade, children have to have their TDap boosters and then going into kindergarten, they have to have their primary series and their kindergarten boosters,” said Providence pediatrician Ann Roberts.

Fewer families were coming in to see doctors over the last year-and-a-half, because of the pandemic. That’s led to lower vaccination rates.

In the graphs below, it shows the averages of vaccinations from 2015 to 2019. In three different age groups, those vaccination rates are higher in those years compared to 2020 and 2021.

While 2020 was really low, doctors say more kids are coming in now. However, it’s just not at the same rate as before.

Doctors say it’s important for kids to get vaccines like chicken pox, MMR, as well as others so they don’t spread diseases in class.

“Some of these diseases are definitely life-threatening and we want to make sure that our kids as a whole are protected as a group so they don’t catch and spread those dangerous diseases that used to cause a lot more disability in the times before vaccines were available,” said Roberts.

There are some exemptions allowed for public school kids, but parents will have to fill out forms and return them to the school before school starts. If you want to get an exemption, you better act now because those doctor’s appointments fill up quickly.

Roberts suggests those who do want exemptions to talk with their pediatricians.

Schools do have deadlines for families to get those immunization records in, so make sure to check with them on those dates.

As for the COVID vaccine, it is not required for kids to go to school. The CDC says kids 12 and older can get the COVID vaccine and others at the same time now. Any questions you may have about any vaccines, ask your doctor.

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