Millions of kids are behind on routine vaccinations, while kids under 12 still can’t get COVID injections: What’s happening with school, come fall?

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused millions of children around the world to miss routine vaccinations, according to a new scientific report. With children under 12 still ineligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, a significant percentage of younger children will return to school in the fall with vulnerabilities to various diseases.

The first report, which was published in The Lancet, estimates that 8.5 million more children than expected missed doses of the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, which protects against diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus, and an additional 8.9 million children missed their first dose of the measles vaccine.

“While the latest coverage trajectories in some regions point to recovery, a combination of lagging catch-up vaccination services, ongoing transmission of SARS-CoV-2, and persistent gaps in vaccine coverage before the pandemic still left millions of children undervaccinated or unvaccinated. against preventable diseases by the end of 2020, and these gaps are likely to extend into 2021,” the researchers wrote. (SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19.)

The new report coincides with an official Food and Drug Administration bulletin saying on Thursday that emergency authorization to use COVID-19 vaccines in children under 12 years of age probably won’t happen until mid-winter.

A study published in the journal Pediatrics Earlier this week, it was also found that childhood vaccinations “declined significantly” after the 2020 pandemic broke out in the United States. “In children ages 2 to 18, measles-containing vaccine uptake recovered, but overall vaccine uptake remained lower,” study states.

It is important to note that most public school districts across the country require that routine childhood vaccinations be completed before a child can attend face-to-face classes. However, some have medical and religious exemptions.

As a whole, the news raises questions about sending younger children back to school in the fall and the risks they may face. However, many parents and doctors agree that in the fall, children need to learn personally again.

“Send them back,” a mother of three, Mindy McMillan Saponaro, who works as a paraprofessional at a school in Maryland, told Yahoo Life. “My son started four days a week in September; my girls shortly after. I’ve been working in schools since October last year, when I was hired full-time, and [am] currently doing summer school.”

Another mom of three Jen Reynolds Matta, who lives in Delaware, agrees. “Right now during the pandemic, I think as a country we need to pay more attention to the mental health of students,” she told Yahoo Life. “School isn’t just about books and learning, it’s about building relationships and building friendships, it’s about learning to work in groups and compromise or sharing, and it’s about providing students with a safe and open environment to communicate needs and wishes. Children need to be in school.”

But doctors say the school may not be quite back to normal just yet. “The fall before school will look like the previous spring — what schools did before will likely continue,” says Dr. Daniel Ganjian, a pediatrician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., tells Yahoo Life.

He himself is a father of school-aged children and says this is likely to happen even if the COVID-19 vaccine is approved earlier than expected, noting that it would “take time” for enough children to be vaccinated to have a noticeable impact. to have.

An infectious disease expert, Amesh A. Adalja, a senior scientist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells Yahoo Life it is possible for children to go back to school safely. “We have data from the pre-vaccine era on how personal schooling can be done safely,” he says. “Now it can be even safer if part of the population is vaccinated.”

Adalja says schools should “be aware of their local conditions, both in terms of the level of vaccination and the extent of its spread in the community, and adapt accordingly.” But, he adds, “the standard should be personal learning.”

dr. Richard Watkins, an infectious disease physician and professor of internal medicine at Northeast Ohio Medical University, agrees, telling Yahoo Life that “children who have not been vaccinated should wear masks and try to maintain as much social distancing as possible.”

dr. Rosemary Olivero, an infectious disease pediatrician at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, who also has school-aged children, tells Yahoo Life that parents still have time to get their children vaccinated. “For routine childhood vaccinations, we need to make sure that the vaccinations required for school entry — measles, mumps, chickenpox, etc. — are fully up to date before the school year starts,” she says. “These have come to mind for many, with so much emphasis on the novel coronavirus.” But, Olivero says, “Routine childhood vaccinations are incredibly important to prevent outbreaks of other infectious diseases in classrooms.

“If your child is late with their visits to your child, we highly recommend scheduling them during the summer months,” she says. “Once a large portion of the eligible population is vaccinated against COVID, classrooms will become much safer for children and staff, spread disease and close rooms or schools.”

dr. Jill Weatherhead, assistant professor of infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, tells Yahoo Life that it’s important for parents to do what they can to make sure their children are protected in the best possible way. “Parents should check that their children are up to date on routine vaccinations,” she says. “If they are not up to date, make an appointment with the pediatrician to get all age-appropriate vaccines before school starts. Routine vaccinations are not only important to protect your children from vaccine-preventable diseases , but also to the community protected by herd immunity.

“If routine vaccination rates in children decline, we may see the return of previously controlled infections, such as measles,” she adds. “This is a particularly dangerous situation for young people [children] who are not old enough to be vaccinated, and those children who cannot be vaccinated or who have a reduced response to vaccines, such as children who have cancer or are on immunosuppressive drugs, as these groups of children can have very poor outcomes.”

While children under 12 cannot yet be vaccinated against COVID-19, Weatherhead offers this advice: “Make sure all eligible people in your home and people your children come in contact with have received their COVID vaccination.” This, she explains, is called “immunization cocooning” and is done “to protect unvaccinated children.”

Adalja emphasizes the importance of personal learning. “Children have suffered during this pandemic, not because of what the virus has done to them, but what the adult and teacher unions have done to them,” he says. Still, he adds, “It will also be critical to monitor other vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles and chickenpox, as vaccination rates have fallen.”

Kids may see a more normal school year at some point, Ganjian says — it’s just not likely to be in September. “Once we see the numbers dropping and more kids getting vaccinated, we can start off more relaxed,” he says.

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