How educators can help students get routine vaccines

Millions of children may be ineligible to return to in-person learning
By: | May 17, 2021
Some 40% of parents say their children missed routine vaccinations due to COVID. (AdobeStock)Some 40% of parents say their children missed routine vaccinations due to COVID. (AdobeStock)

One little-noted side effect of the pandemic that should concern administrators is the significant number of students who have missed routine vaccinations.

Millions of children—at least one in five—may be ineligible to return to in-person learning because they have not been vaccinated against measles, whooping cough, polio or other potentially serious diseases, according to The Learning First Alliance, a partnership of leading public school advocacy organizations.

“We know that caregivers are stressed and many have delayed doctor’s appointments or opted for telehealth appointments during the pandemic,” said Richard M. Long, executive director of the Learning First Alliance. “Childhood and adolescent vaccination rates in the United States have declined at an alarming rate as a result of missed appointments.”

To tackle the problem, administrators can steer families to the Alliance’s new website, www.getvaxfacts.org, and a public information campaign, “The Power to Protect.”

Some 40% of parents say their children missed vaccinations due to COVID, which could put the country at risk of losing herd immunity against some diseases, according to the Alliance.

The website also shows parents how they can get free vaccinations against 16 diseases and conditions.

“If vaccination rates continue to fall, these diseases will return, leading to new outbreaks in schools and communities even as we are all working to have more and more students attending in-person classes on a daily basis,” said Marla Ucelli-Kashyap, chair of the Alliance’s board of directors and assistant to the president for educational issues at the American Federation of Teachers. “And that is the last thing anyone wants to see as we are finally gaining ground on COVID-19.”


More from DA: 2 big questions in push to vaccinate 12- to 15-year-olds