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Getting Children Caught Up on Recommended Vaccines

Mar 25, 2021 | Beth Hess

Both in-person learning and routine well-child visits have been disrupted over the past year due to COVID-19 and many children have fallen behind on receiving recommended vaccines. CDC’s public sector vaccine ordering data show a 14% drop in 2020-2021 compared to 2019, and measles vaccine is down by more than 20%.

To be protected as they return to in-person learning, children need to be caught up now on vaccines. To address this urgent need, CDC’s Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Dr. Nancy Messonnier, issued a Call to Action highlighting steps that can facilitate catch-up vaccination.

Healthcare systems and healthcare providers should:

  • Identify families whose children have missed doses and contact them to schedule appointments
  • Prompt clinicians when these children are seen to deliver vaccines that are due or overdue
  • Let families know what precautions are in place for safe delivery of in-person services

Healthcare provider organizations should:

  • Encourage members to identify and follow up with families whose children have missed doses to get appointments scheduled

Schools and state and local governments agencies should:

  • Send reminders to families about school immunization requirements
  • Follow-up with families of children who are not in compliance with requirements to encourage compliance
  • Use the state’s immunization information system’s reminder-recall capacity to notify families whose children have fallen behind on vaccines

We all should:

  • Communicate directly to families the importance of well-child visits and getting caught up on any recommended vaccines that were missed

As noted by Dr. Messonnier, local governments will play a vital role in increasing childhood vaccination rates. Specifically, local health departments play a critical role in providing and connecting people in their communities with immunization services and counseling. According to NACCHO’s 2019 National Profile of Local Health Departments, 88% of local health departments provide childhood immunization services. This data speaks to the fact that local health departments are uniquely situated to address the decrease in childhood vaccination due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To read more about the impact of COVID-19 on childhood vaccination, access the following resources:


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