May 7, 2021 (St. Paul, MN) – Children and teens ages 12 to 15 may soon be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine through emergency use authorization, and the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (MNAAP) is urging parents and caregivers to take this time to make sure children and teens are caught up on other important immunizations.
Child and adolescent vaccination rates have dropped since the start of the pandemic. According to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), coverage for kindergarten students dropped by 3 percentage points for MMR, Varicella, DTaP, and Polio, when comparing the 2019-20 kindergarten numbers to 2020-21. Tdap and meningococcal coverage dropped by 8 percentage points and 7 percentage points, respectively, in seventh grade students.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends a minimum interval of 14 days before and after COVID-19 vaccines in which no other vaccines can be administered. This means that there could be as much as an eight-week period in which a patient cannot receive other immunizations, depending on which COVID-19 vaccine they receive.
It is critical that young Minnesotans are protected against vaccine-preventable diseases because drops in vaccination rates put the state at risk of other disease outbreaks, such as measles, potentially sparking a ‘twin-demic’. Vaccines can protect against other long term health outcomes, such as certain cancers that are caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).
“We want kids to get the COVID vaccine when it is available to them, but we also want them protected against meningitis, HPV cancers, whooping cough and flu. It is important that children and teens are protected against all vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Dr. Sheldon Berkowitz, MNAAP president.
Parents should call their child’s primary care provider for guidance on recommended immunizations to allow for a safe return to in-person education and activities for everyone. Vaccines prevent illness and save lives. Decades of research prove this to be true. Pediatricians are still here for Minnesota’s children and families and strongly recommend that children continue to come in for their regular check-ups and routine vaccinations to stay healthy. If you think your child is sick, call your pediatrician to determine the best next step.