Millions of children have missed routine vaccinations during the Covid-19 pandemic, and that is putting the US at risk from diseases like measles, whooping cough and polio, according to new data from Blue Cross Blue Shield Association released Wednesday.
Children are on track to miss an estimated 9 million doses of vaccine in 2020, an up to 26% decrease compared to 2019, according to the association’s survey of medical claims.
Forty percent of parents and legal guardians said the pandemic made them miss routine vaccinations for their children. The majority of these happened during two time periods: March through May and August.
"The U.S. is on the precipice of a severe immunization crisis among children," said Dr. Vincent Nelson, chief medical officer at BCBSA. "The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly interrupted adherence to vaccination schedules, and the possibility that preventable diseases, like polio, could become a threat to public health once again is particularly concerning."
The measles vaccine rate is down 26% from 2019, whooping cough immunizations are down 26% and polio vaccination is down 16%, the release said.
“The new BCBSA vaccine data, based on medical claims from millions of Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) members, provides clear evidence that the United States is at risk of widespread outbreaks of preventable disease,” the group said in a statement. “If current trends continue, the U.S. would fall dangerously below the vaccination levels for measles and whooping cough that the CDC says are needed to protect community health.”
The analysis of member claims data looked at vaccine doses delivered from January to September 2020 and compared that with the same period in 2019.