Beyond COVID-19: The Importance of Keeping Up with Routine Vaccinations

Beyond COVID-19: The Importance of Keeping Up with Routine Vaccinations

While COVID-19 vaccines continue to dominate the headlines, it’s important not to forget about routine vaccinations. Vaccinations are a critical component of maintaining public health, and skipping them could lead to the resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases. Here’s what you need to know about routine vaccinations beyond COVID-19.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant decline in routine immunizations. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there was a 14% drop in vaccine doses ordered through the Vaccines for Children program from January to April 2020. This decline was particularly worrisome since routine vaccination coverage was at historically high levels before the pandemic with over 90% of children receiving recommended vaccines.

The Consequences of Delaying Routine Vaccinations

Delaying routine vaccinations can put individuals and communities at an increased risk of vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles and whooping cough. In the US, there have already been outbreaks of measles, with 1,282 individual cases confirmed across 31 states between January 1 and December 31, 2019. These outbreaks were largely due to pockets of unvaccinated individuals, highlighting the importance of maintaining routine vaccinations.

In addition, delaying vaccinations can lead to an influx of individuals needing vaccinations at once, putting a strain on the healthcare system. Healthcare providers and clinics may become overwhelmed with patients seeking vaccinations, potentially leading to longer wait times and limited availability of vaccines.

The Importance of Maintaining Routine Vaccinations

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, maintaining routine vaccinations remains critical for public health. Vaccines protect not only the individual receiving the vaccine, but also those around them. When enough people are vaccinated, it creates herd immunity, making it harder for diseases to spread.

There are also financial benefits to maintaining routine vaccinations. The cost of treating vaccine-preventable diseases can be substantial, not only for the individual but also for society as a whole. In contrast, vaccines are highly cost-effective, often costing less than the treatment for the disease they prevent.

Moreover, getting vaccinated for routine diseases can help reduce the burden on the healthcare system. Preventing illness through vaccinations means fewer hospitalizations, less use of healthcare resources, and fewer workdays missed by caregivers.

Maintaining Routine Vaccinations During COVID-19

Maintaining routine vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic requires collaboration between healthcare providers, public health officials, and communities. The CDC recommends several strategies to ensure routine vaccinations continue:

  • Encourage patients to schedule appointments for routine vaccinations as part of routine healthcare visits and well-child checkups.
  • Explore alternative vaccination locations such as drive-through clinics and school-located vaccination programs.
  • Use telemedicine where appropriate to provide vaccinations and guidance on vaccination schedules.
  • Ensure that healthcare providers have adequate supplies of vaccines and personal protective equipment.

Communities can also play a role in maintaining routine vaccinations by promoting the importance of vaccination and educating individuals about the risks of delaying routine vaccinations.

While COVID-19 vaccines are essential to curb the pandemic, the importance of maintaining routine vaccinations cannot be ignored. Delaying routine vaccinations can lead to resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases and put additional strain on the healthcare system. By following strategies outlined by the CDC and promoting the importance of routine vaccinations, individuals and communities can help maintain public health.

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