By: Sally Goza, MD, FAAP, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics
“Today the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention published new data that documents what pediatricians around the nation have been reporting for weeks: many, many children have missed receiving important immunizations to protect them against diseases like measles, meningitis and whooping cough.
“As a pediatrician, this is incredibly worrisome. I remember treating children with these diseases as recently as the 1980s, and we do not want to return to a time when parents had to worry their infant could die of meningitis – especially when we have a vaccine to prevent it. The COVID-19 pandemic is giving all of us a real-time education in what this vulnerability feels like. Fortunately, we have vaccines to protect children and teens against 16 different diseases.
“Immunizing infants, children and adolescents is important, and should not be delayed. I’m also concerned that children who have missed vaccines, have also missed other health care that occurs during those visits, including physical exams, developmental screenings, and other important care that should not be delayed.
“We know parents are worried. We want to reassure all our families that pediatricians have innovated ways to make visits even safer, including setting different hours or locations for well and sick children, rigorous sanitation and cleaning practices, and conducting portions of visits by telehealth. The American Academy of Pediatrics urges all parents to contact their pediatrician to schedule a visit to catch up on vaccines or for a well-child check-up. AAP has published new recommendations today to guide pediatricians in managing visits safely and effectively.
“As social distancing restrictions begin to lift around the country and people begin to circulate, children and teens who are not vaccinated will be at higher risk for contracting a disease that could be prevented by a vaccine. While we wait for scientists and doctors to develop a vaccine for coronavirus, let’s work together to protect our children in every way that we can, today.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds