What to Know
- Mayor Bill de Blasio is urging all parents and guardians to make sure their children get vaccinated, this after the city has seen a steep decline in vaccination rates during the pandemic
- What the city found was that vaccine doses are down 63 percent. Vaccine doses in children 2 years old and younger are down 42 percent, while vaccinations in children older than 2 years are down a whopping 91 percent
- According to the New Jersey Immunization Information System, there has been a 40 percent decline in pediatric vaccines for children ages 2 and younger and a 60 percent decrease for children older than 2 years.
New Jersey officials are tackling another pediatric issue that has popped up due to the coronavirus pandemic: a decrease in the number of children getting vaccinated.
"While staying at home has resulted in slowing the spread of the virus, it has also resulted in delays and decreases in the number of children getting recommended vaccines," the state's Department of Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said during Gov. Phil Murphy's daily coronavirus briefing Tuesday. "New Jersey has seen a dramatic drop in vaccine doses ordered and administered between March and April 20 of this year as compared to the same period last year."
According to the New Jersey Immunization Information System, there has been a 40 percent decline in pediatric vaccines for children ages 2 and younger and a 60 percent decrease for children older than 2 years.
Persichilli reminded the public that "the need to protect children from serious childhood diseases, like whooping cough, doesn't disappear during the COVID-19 public health emergency. All childhood visits and vaccinations are essential services and help ensure children are protected against deadly vaccine preventable diseases."
New Jersey is not the only entity in the tri-state that has voiced concern over the declining number of childhood vaccinations during the pandemic. Last Wednesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio urged all parents and guardians to make sure their children get vaccinated, this after the city has seen a steep decline in vaccination rates during the pandemic.
"The vaccination rate in this city – this is striking – the vaccination rate in this city has been falling during this crisis and the sheer magnitude of it has become clear to us during the last few days," the mayor said, adding that the data compiled "was shocking and troubling."
The city's Health Department looked at the vaccination rate -- the number of vaccine doses administered -- and compared the period from March 23, "when this crisis had really gone into high gear to May 9," de Blasio said. Then the department compared that six-week period this year to that same period last year.
What the city found was that vaccine doses are down 63 percent. Vaccine doses in children 2 years old and younger are down 42 percent, while vaccinations in children older than 2 years are down a whopping 91 percent.
Overall, during the six-week period in 2019, almost 400,000 doses of vaccines were administered in the city, according to de Blasio, compared to fewer than 150,000 doses during the same six-week period this year.
"Something has to be done immediately to address this. We intend to work with parents and families to do that right now," de Blasio said.
De Blasio went on to explain the importance of vaccinations, particularly during a pandemic.
"The vaccines, for example, that prevent respiratory illnesses in our kids that prevent diseases like pneumonia, that is important any time. We never want to see any of our children in danger...But if that were to happen this year, it comes with greater dangers," the mayor said.
"An unvaccinated child a greater threat of contracting a disease that could then put them at greater threat of contracting Covid on top of that," he went on to say. "That combination is dangerous in and of it itself, but also brings up the link between Covid and MIS-C."
Unlike COVID-19, a respiratory disease, MIS-C affects blood vessels and organs and has symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease and toxic shock. It involves a “hyper response” of the child’s immune system to the virus that can lead to inflammation of the blood vessels, and affect the heart’s arteries, leading to coronary aneurysm. It likely took time to identify the apparent connection to the virus because it targets different systems and manifests in different symptoms.
"We don’t want to see any of that happen to any child," de Blasio said.
Doctor's offices possibly being closed, families staying home and even being afraid of coming into contact with other individuals could have been some of the reasons why there was a dip in the vaccination rate.
Parents and guardians who are worried about taking their children to a hospital to get vaccinations in the middle of a pandemic, have other alternatives. Vaccinations are offered for free at more than 1,000 city facilities that are part of the Vaccines for Children Program as well as at all Health and Hospital clinics.
Parents and guardians can also call the child's health provider to set up an appointment or call 844-NYC-4NYC.