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Routine vaccinations for children have decreased significantly since President Trump declared a national emergency on March 13 in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.
There were around 3 million fewer noninfluenza vaccine doses ordered from the federal Vaccines For Children program in the week of April 13 in comparison to the same week in 2019 and 400,000 fewer measles doses.
The number of measles doses administered to children under 24 months dropped below 1,000 the week of March 23, compared to roughly 2,000 a week before the declaration of a national emergency.
Measles doses administered to children over 24 months plummeted below 500 a week from mid-March to mid-April, from 2,500 at the start of March.
The CDC noted that steady rises in doses administered to children younger than 24 months in late March indicate “early success of strategies” to promote childhood immunizations during the pandemic.
CDC warns the decline in measles vaccinations raises the threat of outbreaks.
“As social distancing requirements are relaxed, children who are not protected by vaccines will be more vulnerable to diseases such as measles,” the agency concludes. “In response, continued coordinated efforts between health care providers and public health officials at the local, state and federal levels will be necessary to achieve rapid catch-up vaccination.”
In December 2019, the World Health Organization and CDC reported that more than 140,000 people died of measles in 2018, mostly children under 5 with the disease surging globally. These deaths are preventable with a vaccine, but rates have declined in the past decade. Children are recommended to get two doses, with the agencies finding that in 2018 86% received the first dose while less than 70% received the second. The U.S. in particular saw its highest number of cases in 25 years. “The fact that any child dies from a vaccine-preventable disease like measles is frankly an outrage and a collective failure to protect the world’s most vulnerable children,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus. Diseases once thought left in the past like mumps and whooping cough have also risen in recent years in the U.S.
The U.S. leads the world in confirmed cases of the coronavirus and reported deaths with 1,281,246 and 76,901 respectively.
90%. That’s how many people who are not protected from measles will contract it following exposure, according to the CDC. Around 23 million deaths have been prevented by measles vaccinations in the last 18 years.