Vaccine rates drop dangerously as parents avoid doctor's visits

Public health officials are concerned parents around the United States are inadvertently sowing the seeds of another health crisis by canceling well-child checkups to avoid coronavirus exposure. Immunizations are dropping at a dangerous rate, putting millions of children at risk for measles, whooping cough, and other life-threatening illnesses.

Public health officials are concerned parents around the United States are inadvertently sowing the seeds of another health crisis by canceling well-child checkups to avoid coronavirus exposure. Immunizations are dropping at a dangerous rate, putting millions of children at risk for measles, whooping cough, and other life-threatening illnesses. "The last thing we want as the collateral damage of COVID-19 are outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, which we will almost certainly see if there continues to be a drop in vaccine uptake," said Sean T. O'Leary, MD, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) committee on infectious diseases. PCC, a pediatric electronic health records company, gathered vaccine information from 1,000 independent pediatricians nationwide. Using the week of February 16 as a pre-coronavirus baseline, PCC found that during the week of April 5, the administration of measles, mumps, and rubella shots declined by 50%; diphtheria and whooping cough shots by 42%; and HPV vaccines by 73%. "We know our vaccine rates were already tenuous, so any additional hit to that is a great worry," said Elizabeth Meade, MD, president of Washington state's chapter of the AAP.