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Health, Science & Environment

CDC reports pediatric vaccinations fell slightly during pandemic

James Gathany

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that for the 2020-21 school year, vaccine coverage fell slightly from the year before, elevating fears of outbreaks of childhood illnesses.

Health officials blame the dip on COVID-related shutdowns, and they are trying this year to get children back on track.

The CDC said last year, vaccine coverage was at 94%, about one percentage point lower than the previous year.

"It's not a huge dip. But any dip can be impactful and have a negative impact on our community," said Dr. Mysheika Roberts, Health Commissioner for Columbus Public Health.

"Now fortunately, thus far, we have not seen an increase in some of those childhood diseases like hepatitis, like pertussis, but we're looking for it," she said.

Dr. Roberts said that because of pediatric immunizations, an estimated 42,000 deaths and 20 million cases of infectious diseases are avoided, as well as savings of $70 billion.

"That $70 billion has to do with health care expenses, childcare expenses, lost time from work, and all of those factors that go into when a child is sick," Roberts said.

"So vaccines are very effective at helping reduce infectious diseases in kids and reduces deaths and obviously reduces the financial burden on our community."

This week, vaccine maker Moderna asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to authorize its COVID vaccine for children under 6. Dr. Roberts called it "huge news."

The more people we can get vaccinated [against COVID-19], the better for our community as a whole; for our nation as a whole," she said.

For more information about Columbus Public Health's immunization program, visit the immunization program web page.

Health, Science & Environment Pediatric vaccinationsCDC
Matthew Rand is the Morning Edition host for 89.7 NPR News. Rand served as an interim producer during the pandemic for WOSU’s All Sides daily talk show.