Guest blog by Richard Foster, FNP
June 9, 2020
Having just gotten over and am recovering
from this miserable COVID illness, this has
occurred to me. With all the focus on the
current pandemic and reopening needs,
there could be a hidden risk of serious
outbreaks of vaccine-preventable childhood
illnesses come this fall and winter when
schools reopen and the second wave of
COVID comes upon us, which it will by its
I've never sent anything like this before
[ed’s note: originally sent by email], but
I am today because you either have children or grandchildren yourselves, or know someone who does, or you're a healthcare provider, or a writer, or community influencer. Please take a moment to read.
A cautionary alert: Some questions to ask yourselves and your health authorities:
Children's vaccinations have lapsed during this period. Some have missed three separate series. There's a silent looming risk for outbreaks of preventable serious illnesses this fall and winter as schools reopen—illnesses that many providers today have never seen, rubella, diphtheria, measles, and mumps for example.
What is your school district's plan to prepare for accepting students with incomplete vaccination records?
Are your state vaccination registries doing a data dive and analysis to reveal rates of lapsed vaccination now? Are they making needs projections for two months from now?
What preparations are your local and state public health authorities making for public awareness campaigns and closing these gaps?
What are your local providers and clinic systems doing to make these preparations? Many will have not reordered their vaccinations due to the stock they already had on hand at the time of closures and some will have expired during this time. They could be caught short with a hectic rush when schools reopen.
This applies to vaccinations for adults too. We can reasonably expect another wave of COVID this fall and winter and those vulnerable don't need the additional pneumonia risk that some vaccines can mitigate.
Kids need four to eight weeks post-vaccination to develop a protective immune response. So now is the time to ask these questions so your kids and others have the most protection we can give them when they return to school.
For reasons we still don't know, kids and toddlers somehow are far less infected and contagions from COVID-19, but that IS NOT the case with childhood illnesses that we vaccinate to prevent.
Please don't take this post as a scary rant. It's not. It's a prudent, reasonable heads up so we don't stumble into a log jam and overwhelm our providers just as schools open, an historically feverish time for getting kids caught up and ready for the school year.
I'd like to hear your thoughts and please share this with your friends and colleagues.
Take care of yourselves, someone else, and please wear your N-95 mask.
(Editor's note: No one should go hungry during these trying times. If you have the means, please donate to your local food bank. Even a dollar goes a long way. Simply search "food banks near me" to find one. If you're in need, please contact them for help.)
Richard Foster is a Family Nurse Practitioner based in Oregon. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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