Childhood immunizations fell 13% during pandemic, DOH says

A new report from the Washington State Department of Health shows childhood immunizations declined during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now is the time to get your kids up to date on vaccinations, health officials say, as routine childhood immunizations fell 13% in 2021 compared to pre-pandemic levels. DOH reports the decline is most noticeable in young children, but vaccinations have actually increased for teenagers.

"The pandemic has been difficult for everyone. Disruptions to schooling, childcare and in-person health care made it hard for some families to stay up to date on their shots," said DOH's chief science officer Dr. Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett. "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."

According to the DOH, vaccinations:

  • Fell 9.6% for children 19–35 months old
  • Fell 3.9% for children 4–6 years old
  • Fell 3.6% for children 11–12 years old
  • Increased 1.8% for teens 13–17 years old

Childcare programs and schools require kids to be immunized against diseases like Chickenpox, Mumps, Tetanus and Hepatitis B, but pandemic closures and stay-home orders may have prompted some families to put off non-emergency care.

You can learn more about required immunizations on the Department of Health website.

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"Vaccines are the best tools we have to protect kids from getting sick from preventable diseases," said Dr. Kwan-Gett.