Maintaining childhood immunization during COVID-19

Disruption of immunization services, even for brief periods, will result in increased numbers of susceptible individuals and raise the likelihood of outbreak-prone vaccine preventable diseases such as measles.

World Health Organization (2020)
portrait of infant
Khloe 2 months

You have been Khloe’s primary care provider since birth. She received her first childhood immunization—for hepatitis B (HepB)—in the birth facility prior to discharge.

Khloe is due for her 2-month Texas Health Steps preventive medical checkup. As part of the checkup, you plan to administer the second dose of HepB vaccine and the first doses of five key early childhood vaccines:

  1. Rotavirus
  2. Diphtheria, Tetanus, and acellular Pertussis (DTaP)
  3. Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
  4. Pneumococcal Conjugate (PVC)
  5. Inactivated Poliovirus (IPV)

All six vaccines should be administered to a child at age 2 months, according to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As a primary care provider, you understand that childhood immunization prevents needless illness, pain, disability and death from diseases such as measles and pertussis. It is also one of the most cost-effective health investments we can make as a society.

However, concerns about exposure to COVID-19 may be expressed by parents or guardians. To address these concerns and protect staff members as well as young patients and their families, medical offices and clinics may need to consider implementing changes to their office hours and other practices.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has created a website with up-to-date COVID-19 provider information and guidance related to Medicaid and CHIP, behavioral health and regulatory services. Providers are encouraged to check the site regularly for updated information. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also provides COVID-19 news and recommendations on its website.

What steps can you take to help ensure that Khloe’s parents bring her to be vaccinated during her 2-month Texas Health Steps preventive medical checkup?

Why It Matters

“Due to the global circulation of the virus causing COVID-19 and the current pandemic, there is risk of disruption to routine immunization activities due to both COVID-19 related burden on the health system and decreased demand for vaccination because of physical distancing requirements or community reluctance” (World Health Organization, 2020). As a front-line provider of health care to the youngest among us, you can make a difference in whether immunizations are administered on time. You can save lives by helping to prevent the spread of a number of contagious and debilitating diseases, such as measles and pertussis, even during a pandemic.

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References

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2020). COVID-19 Information.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. (2020). Recommended Child and Adolescent Immunization Schedule for ages 18 years or younger, United States, 2020.

Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information.

Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Coronavirus (COVID-19) Provider Information.

Texas Health Steps. (2018). Periodicity Schedule.

World Health Organization. (2020). Guiding principles for immunization activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.