Routine childhood immunizations fell in Washington during pandemic

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The state says there was a sharp drop in routine childhood immunizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a new report, the Washington State Department of Health said the overall immunization rate dropped by 13 percent in 2021 when compared to pre-pandemic levels.

DOH said it is working with health care providers and other agencies to help families catch up and stay current on immunizations.

The rate fell the most in the 19- to 35-month age group, while the vaccination rate actually grew in the 13-to-17 age range.

In Chelan County, the vaccination rate for ages 0 to 24 months was down 6.8 percent from the average in 2021 after being down 3 percent in 2020. In Douglas County the vaccination rate fell 16 percent from the average in 2021 while falling just 0.6 percent in 2020.

Children need to be up to date on immunizations to attend pre-school, kindergarten, school, or childcare this fall.

Washington state provides all recommended childhood vaccines at no cost to children through the age of 18.

“The pandemic has been difficult for everyone. Disruptions to schooling, childcare and in-person health care made it hard for some families to stay up to date on their shots,” said Dr. Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett, chief science officer for DOH. “We encourage parents and caregivers to schedule their well-child visits as soon as possible, to make sure their kids are happy, healthy, meeting developmental milestones, and ready for school.”