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Ransone is the President of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Misinformation and interruptions in care during the COVID-19 pandemic have led to worrying trends in childhood immunization uptake in the United States sterling Ranson Jr., MD, FAAFPPresident of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Recent data showed that US preschool immunization coverage fell from 95% to less than 94% in the 2020-2021 school year.
Vaccination rates have also declined worldwide. UNICEF estimates that 25 million children are unvaccinated or under-vaccinated, up 2 million from 2020 and 6 million from 2019.
Regarding the COVID-19 vaccination, rates for children under the age of 5 have peaked and began to decline “only a few weeks after they became eligible,” according to a Kaiser Family Foundation article.
Healio spoke to Ransone to learn more about the decline in childhood vaccination rates and how GPs can help their patients overcome vaccination hesitation.
Hi: Contributing to the decline in COVID-19 vaccination rates among children old younger than 5 years?
Ranson: Misinformation about COVID-19 is widespread and seriously endangers children’s health. It can undermine safety, endanger communities and potentially lead patients to forgo vaccinations instead of following the advice of trusted scientists and medical experts. This applies not only to COVID-19 vaccines, but also to routine childhood vaccinations.
With constant updates, false facts and misinformation can easily spread. GPs involved in patient communities should speak to people to ensure the information they are receiving is from credible sources, such as B. the CDC, the WHO or local and state health authorities.
Hi: Why are so many children lagging behind other routine vaccinations? Which vaccinations are particularly low in the United States and why?
Ranson: With the new academic year fast approaching, I am concerned that vaccination rates are steadily declining. Reports showed that the 2020-2021 school year immunization coverage for kindergarten children fell across the country, and over the past two years, the CDC has recorded a more than 10% drop in state orders for vaccines for children from pre-pandemic levels. through which about half of the children in the country are vaccinated.
The COVID-19 pandemic, combined with misinformation, has prevented people from protecting themselves against serious public health threats, including routine immunizations like the flu shot or childhood vaccinations like diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus. It is deeply concerning to see outbreaks of polio and measles, diseases that have been largely eradicated in the US thanks to vaccines. Because of this, it is crucial for parents to get information from a trusted source like their GP in order to make the best decisions about their child’s health.
Hi: What precautions should parents take this year to protect their children when they go back to school?
Ranson: It is important for parents to ensure their children are up to date on their vaccinations before going back to school. You should speak to your family doctor or general practitioner about what vaccinations are recommended for your child’s age and class. Because young children are still developing their immune systems and different vaccines are given at different ages, it is important for parents to keep their children’s vaccinations up to date to prevent disease or to boost immunity, which can decline over time.
Remember: Vaccines help keep children in school and participate in activities and sports more safely by curbing community spread and disruption to personal learning. This continuity helps improve the children’s quality of life and their social and emotional development. In addition, vaccinating children can help protect more vulnerable family members. This includes young siblings who may be too young to be vaccinated, family members who cannot get the vaccine because of a health condition, and family members who may be at increased risk of getting sick if infected. Talk to your family doctor. We’re here to answer questions and help kids overcome their fear of needles.
Hi: Do you have any tips for incorporating the COVID-19 vaccination into doctor visits like physical exams for the coming year?
Ranson: GPs are not new to talking about the importance of vaccination. We have been advising our patients on recommended vaccinations for years. Exercise exams or routine doctor visits are a great opportunity to ask patients if they are up to date on their COVID-19 vaccine or other routine vaccinations. Vaccinating your child against COVID-19 can help keep your child and others healthy and connected to friends, classmates, and activities.
Hi: How can general practitioners help their patients to overcome vaccination hesitations?
Ranson: Because of our ongoing, extensive relationships with patients and their families, GPs and general practitioners are well-positioned to provide children with COVID-19 vaccines, as well as other routine immunizations to keep everyone safe and healthy.
We play an important role in ensuring that all members of the community have access to the COVID-19 vaccine, flu vaccine and other routine vaccinations that prevent dangerous diseases. Recent data shows that 46% of Americans are more likely to be vaccinated if they are offered the COVID-19 vaccine in a place where they would normally receive medical care, including their family doctor.
Hi: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Ranson: I would like to repeat a few main points. First, vaccines are safe, effective and save lives.
As we approach the school season again, it is crucial for parents to ensure children are up to date on their vaccines, including COVID-19. Additionally, vaccinating your child against COVID-19 can help keep your child and others healthy and connected to friends, classmates, and activities. And third, GPs are a trusted source of information for their patients and local communities. We are here to help our patients and their families get vaccinated and to answer any questions.