Staying up to date with immunizations provides the best protection against disease and is essential to health. Some diseases are no longer common in this country because of vaccination. However, if we stopped vaccinating, the few cases we have in the United States could very quickly become tens or hundreds of thousands of cases. Getting vaccinations on time is still important during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is crucial everyone-children, staff and parents, receive their regularly scheduled vaccines.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, parents and guardians should schedule immunization appointments early. Some health care providers may have delays in scheduling and decreased appointment windows. Health care providers are taking every precaution to ensure the safety of patients, families, and staff. Call your health care provider if you have any questions or concerns about scheduled well-child visit, or for immunizations. The Pennsylvania departments of Education, Health, Human Services, and Insurance reminds parents to ensure their children’s immunizations are up to date as part of back-to-school preparations. In the Wolf Administration’s announcement, Importance of Vaccinations and Updated Guidelines for New School Year released 8/10/20, there is a temporary suspension of children’s immunizations requirements that allows children to enter and attend school or an early childhood program for two months without the required immunizations. See the document for full details.
Early childhood education staff should make immunization a priority. Foster an environment of health with:
• Immunization tracking
• Staff education and adult vaccination as needed
• Parent education
Unvaccinated children are at increased risk for disease and can spread disease to others. Babies are at high risk since they are too young to be fully vaccinated. Un- and under vaccinated vaccinated people are a threat to children and adults who might not be able to receive certain vaccines because they have cancer or other health conditions. Children who are not up-to-date with vaccines recommended for their age may be excluded from child care and schools if an outbreak occurs.
Some reputable immunization websites to educate staff and parents include:
1. American Academy of Pediatrics - Healthy Children https://www.healthychildren.org
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) www.cdc.gov/
o Easy-to-read immunization schedules (in English and Spanish) https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/easy-to-read/child.html
o Vaccine information for parents www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/resources
o Infant Immunization - Frequently Asked Questions www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/parent-questions.html
3. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Vaccine Education Center http://www.chop.edu/centers-programs/vaccine-education-center
4. Vaccinate Your Family http://vaccinateyourfamily.org/
5. Flu Vaccine Materials for Early Education/Child Care Staff and Schools https://www.cdc.gov/flu/resource-center/freeresources/print/print-schools-childcare.htm