Childhood vaccinations drop during COVID-19 pandemic

Onenti-vaccine sentiment has been simmering in the US since at least 1998, when Lanceta prestigious medical journal, published—and then withdrawn—A deceptive article falsely links childhood vaccines to autism. They have grown even stronger in the past two years, thanks to misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine. Although the development of COVID-19 vaccines is happening at an unprecedented rate, they have been rigorously tested and have proven both safe and effective. However, lies about them — that vaccines contain microchips, that they would alter the recipient’s DNA or make them magnetic — were widespread.

Public health experts fear those baseless claims will either exacerbate distrust among people who already doubt the vaccine or act as a gateway to vaccine skepticism in the country. who previously had no such concerns. Now it looks like those fears may have been put in place. In April, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publish a study showed that during the 2020-2021 school year, routine immunization rates among the country’s 3.52 million preschool children fell below the 95 percent level needed to ensure herd immunity. Average drop from rates for the 2019-2020 school year small, just over 1% for each of the three vaccines. But that is enough to allow the virus to gain a foothold in the general population of children, many of whom may not be immunized for medical reasons, the CDC researchers say.

The researchers cited many variables that could have contributed to the drop in vaccination rates, including missed visits to children during the peak of the pandemic and school closures. most of which require students to be vaccinated. But many experts say faith in a COVID-19 vaccine may play a role.

Gary Kirkilas, a Phoenix-area pediatrician and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, said: “I think the segment of the community that was inherently distrustful of the medical community has certainly been. recover again. “We had politicization [COVID-19] vaccines only lead to more confusion. “

Until now, the United States has been fortunate that myopia vaccination rates have not caused an increase in routine childhood illnesses. Dr Georgina Peacock, acting director of the CDC’s immunization services and author of the recent CDC study, said: “We haven’t seen outbreaks of disease yet, and that’s probably representative of the disease. the fact that families have stayed at home during the pandemic. Press summary when findings are published. But now that most children are back in the classroom, experts fear that epidemics like 2019 national measles outbreak more and more possibilities.

Developing anti-vaccine sentiment

California has long been a leader in enforcing vaccine requirements for school attendance; in 2015, legislators there removed the personal trust exemptions for parents who don’t want to get their kids vaccinated. But recently, additional bills were proposed that would require all businesses to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for their employees and add COVID-19 to the list of vaccines that apply for an exemption. Personal beliefs for students, have not been featured in the state legislature.

Christina Hildebrand has a theory why. For years, she lobbied against California state law that made vaccinations a condition of attending public schools. Before the pandemic, she said, lawmakers were opposed to her arguments and tired of her lobbying. But since the COVID-19 vaccine was released, Hildebrand said, they seem to be more receptive on the California State Assembly, in Sacramento. “I think it’s because before that, the legislators had no personal experience with the vaccine issue. Whereas now, every legislator has had some experience. ” She believes people are skeptical about a COVID-19 vaccine for children (which studies have shown Safe and effective) has prompted many to rethink routine immunization in this age group.

That’s exactly what experts like Dr. Gerald Harmon, president of the American Medical Association (AMA), care about. “We had three different pandemics,” he said. “The COVID-19 pandemic, the pandemic of disinformation, and now the pandemic of mistrust. So there is a significant risk in providing more oxygen to the anti-vaxxer population. “

Vaccination rates drop

Recent CDC research looked at changes in immunization rates from 2019-2020 to 2020-2021 for three routine childhood shots:

  • Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination rate decreased from 95.2% to 93.9%
  • diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP), decreased from 94.9% to 93.6%
  • varicella, or chickenpox, decreased from 94.8% to 93.6%

Droplets that seem to drop below the 95% threshold are worrisome, especially when, for measles, the disease is so contagious that even a point below 95% herd immunity is enough to cause the disease to spread widely. widely among unvaccinated people. “Measles is an extremely contagious childhood that carries the risk of serious lifelong injury,” says Harmon. In some cases, children get measles may develop central nervous system damage no later than 10 years after the first infection. Trouble because national vaccine numbers are at much worse levels in some states. Maryland has seen immunization rates plummet from an average of 95% for all three vaccines in the 2019-2020 school year to 87.6%, 89.7%, and 87.3%, respectively. with MMR, DTaP and varicella vaccines the following year. Wisconsin dropped 5% to about 87.2% for all three captures. The state with the least immunization coverage in the nation for this age group is Idaho, with just over 86% for all three shots. That represents a 3% drop from 2019-2020.

Since the CDC last counted childhood immunization rates in 2021, schools have reopened – with immunization mandates in place – and pediatrician visits have increased following when it drops sharply. In theory, those two factors could mean a rebound in vaccine numbers, but Harmon and Kirkilas aren’t alone in worrying that damage is caused by distrust and misinformation regarding COVID-19 vaccines. may have long-term effects on the absorption of other vaccines. Indeed, “regular vaccination rates are slow to recover”, American Academy of Pediatrics in January 2022.

Francesco Pierri, a postdoctoral student at the Polytechnic University of Milan and the lead author of an April study was published in Natural Science Report that related COVID-19 vaccine misinformation posted on Twitter and negative attitudes in vaccination surveys, believing that low immunization rates among children may be related to misinformation. Unfounded rumors about a COVID-19 vaccine.

“You can assume some spillover effects,” he said. “Activity around this type of malicious content has increased, [leading to] an increase in the rate of misinformation about vaccines in general. ”

“One of the things I learned in the military is that how to overcome resistance is to stay on,” says Harmon, AMA president and former Major General in the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard. outstanding capacity. I approach those who are hesitant with vaccines and address them one by one. I try to answer their questions, be on the scientific side, and not get emotional.” The The most effective antidote to misinformationMore information, he says – genuine, scientific variety.

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Write letter for Jeffrey Kluger at [email protected].

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