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Seize This Critical Time to Catch Up on Missed Pediatric Vaccinations and Routine Checkups

Dr. Michael D. Warren, Pediatrician and Associate Administrator for the Maternal and Child Health Bureau at HRSAIt’s back to school time! Did you know that compared to before the pandemic, rates of some routine childhood vaccinations are down by as much as 20 percent? Many kids also missed well-child visits over the past year and a half. This leaves our children and communities vulnerable to preventable diseases like measles, whooping cough, and seasonal flu. And as of mid-August, only 31% of 12-15 year olds and 41% of 16-17 year olds are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

We have the opportunity to reverse that trend, get kids caught up on routine vaccinations, foster healthy communities, and help stop the COVID-19 pandemic.

Routine pediatric visits and vaccinations are one of the best ways to ensure that kids can return to school successfully and engage in the parts of life that students love –playing with friends, participating in sports, and connecting with their teachers. Well-child visits are an opportunity for parents to support the whole child, both their physical and behavioral wellbeing. Parents can ask questions about nutrition and safety and their child can be screened for developmental delays or behavioral and mental health concerns. 

We also have a responsibility to advance health equity and assure that every child has a fair chance to reach their potential. During the pandemic, African American and Latinx/Hispanic children missed well-child visits at rates greater than their white counterparts (33% and 35%, compared to 27%, respectively). We have an opportunity to do better. Our public health partners and local community organizations can all play a part in reaching families with the services that they need.

HRSA is actively working with partners to promote routine immunizations, well-child visits, and COVID-19 vaccines for people ages 12 and above. This August, we invite you to join HRSA in promoting well-child visits and vaccines—including the COVID-19 vaccine for eligible youth aged 12 and up—through our #WellChildWednesdays social media campaign. Like, Retweet, & Share @HRSAgov posts each Wednesday and tag with #WellChildWednesdays. Amplify our available messages HRSA Exit Disclaimer and watch out for our next message on August 25th.

Thank you for your continued work and partnership to keep kids safe and healthy. With your help, we can get these kids off to a healthy start for the new school year!

Dr. Michael D. Warren, Pediatrician and Associate Administrator for the Maternal and Child Health Bureau at HRSA

Date Last Reviewed:  August 2021