Washington sees sharp decline in child vaccinationsMay 16, 2022
Child vaccination rates declined sharply in Washington starting in March 2020 and continuing through last year.
In 2021, there were 13% fewer vaccines administered compared to recent years. The largest drop was seen in children aged 0–24-months.
The change is attributable to disruptions in the delivery of health services, lockdowns, and school closures, which delayed well-child visits for many families according to a report from the Washington State Department of Health.
The report did not include vaccines given for Covid-19 or the flu.
The lower rates are consistent with data from a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and prevention, which found a drop in routine vaccinations in six states beginning with the onset of the pandemic.
“The pandemic has been difficult for everyone,” Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett, DOH Chief Science Officer said in a statement. “We encourage parents and caregivers to schedule their well-child visits as soon as possible, to make sure their kids are happy, healthy, meeting developmental milestones, and ready for school.”
“Vaccines are the best tools we have to protect kids from getting sick from preventable diseases,” Kwan-Gett added.
Despite the overall decline, one age group saw an increase in vaccinations. The immunization rate for kids aged 13–17 grew by 1.8%. Generally, older children were more likely to have received routine vaccinations.
According to the DOH, children must be current on vaccinations by fall in order to enter school, preschool, or childcare.
Any child in Washington under age 19 can receive free vaccinations provided by the Childhood Vaccine Program. The program makes use of both federal and state funding to provide vaccines to any participating health care providers, according to DOH guidelines.
A map of providers participating in the program is available on the DOH website.
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