Healthy Schools

Students Fall Behind on “Routine-but-Critical” Vaccinations

A news release from the Learning First Alliance suggests that one in five children missed receiving routine vaccines during the pandemic. This lapse could not only cause students to be ineligible to return to school in-person this fall, but it could lead to the loss of herd immunity against long-eradicated diseases like measles, polio and whooping cough.

A recent Blue Cross Blue Shield Survey reveals that 40 percent of parents say that their children have missed at least one vaccine during the COVID-19 pandemic. The routine vaccines against 16 serious diseases are intended both to keep the vaccinated individual safe as well as prevent an individual from passing the disease along to fellow students, teachers, staff and the community at large.

“We know that caregivers are stressed, and many have delayed doctor’s appointments or opted for telehealth appointments during the pandemic,” said Richard M. Long, Learning First Alliance executive director. “Childhood and adolescent vaccination rates in the United States have declined at an alarming rate as a result of missed appointments.”

The Learning First Alliance (LFA) has launched a new website and a public information campaign, “The Power to Protect,” to educate parents and guardians on the importance of these routine shots. It also provides information on how to receive the shots free of charge as necessary. According to a news release, LFA is a coalition of 12 national education groups that represents 10 million parents, teachers, support staff, principals, superintendents, school board members, and teacher educators.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has expanded its emergency use authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to adolescents ages 12–15. Likewise, updated guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) allows the COVID-19 vaccine to be given at the same time as other routine vaccines. The COVID-19 vaccine is still optional but highly recommended.

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].