The coronavirus pandemic is reportedly behind a drop in children’s vaccinations in Washington state, according to a report.
Since March, the same month the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global pandemic, childhood vaccination rates for diseases such as measles have declined, the Seattle Times reported.
More specifically, the state saw a 31% drop in August in the number of children under the age of 18 being vaccinated compared to averages during the same month from 2015 to 2019, per the newspaper.
The decline was gradual, beginning in February, before a drastic drop in March with a 33% decline compared to the average that same month between 2015 and 2019. By April, the number of children in the state under 18 being vaccinated fell more, bottoming out at 39%.
For children under 2, vaccination rates also declined, down by more than 9% in August compared to the August average between 2015 and 2019, per the Seattle Times. In March, vaccinations dropped nearly 26% compared to the March average between those same years.
The newspaper cited an instance last year in Southwest Washington to point out the dangers of not vaccinating. At the time, an outbreak of the measles – a disease that was declared eradicated in the U.S. in 2000 – infected 70 people, with most of the infections (93%) occurring among children between the ages of 1 and 18. Only 85% of kindergartners had received the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.
“Adding more outbreaks on top of COVID-19 not only would put more people’s health at risk, it also could overload the health care system,” Danielle Koeing, the health promotion supervisor with the Washington State Department of Health, told the Seattle Times.
Meanwhile, Dr. Beth Ebel, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine, reminded parents that childhood vaccinations are “safe and effective.”
“Missing those doses, unless you make them up, your child has not gotten the training for her immune system that you need to be able to fight infection,” Ebel told the newspaper.