As Childhood Vaccinations Decline, Concern Grows

Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a steep drop in the rate of pediatric vaccinations. Unfortunately, this is leaving many infants, children and teens vulnerable to serious, yet preventable diseases.

In the Mid-Atlantic region, we saw pediatric vaccinations decrease almost 50% in April 2020 compared to April 2019.1 Nationally, doctors in the Vaccines for Children program ordered 2.5 million fewer doses of all routine non-influenza vaccines between mid-March and Mid-April.2

If this trend continues, we could be facing outbreaks of preventable diseases like whooping cough, measles and meningitis while trying to contain, treat and combat the worst pandemic in over a century.

Last year, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) did some digging. They collected information on the decline of childhood vaccinations during the pandemic – and the numbers speak for themselves.

View the infographic

What can be done to correct this?

Along with experts from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) is taking immediate action to course-correct this distressing development.

Following the advice of the AAP, we’re urging members to schedule their children’s well exam. We’re also encouraging members to ask their doctors’ offices about the safety measures they’ve put in place to keep children and family members protected during their in-person visit.

To promote the scheduling of in-person child well-visits among members, we’ve produced a series of communications, including member emails, social media, messaging for our website’s Coronavirus Resource Center and for our online member hub, My Account. We’ve also updated the CareFirst Preventive Guidelines site to highlight immunization content and to make our members aware of which vaccines are covered.

Doctors and other providers in our network are key to this by contacting their patients who have missed their immunizations to schedule an in-person appointment. In the midst of the anxieties of this unusual year, this is one thing that parents can control. We encourage all families to discuss vaccinations with their physicians.

Lastly, October is a good time for you and your family to also get your flu shot.

1Deidre McCabe and Charlie Gischlar, “Maryland Department of Health awarded $250,000 Pfizer Foundation Grant to address decreases in childhood vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Maryland Department of Health, July 21, 2020

2Santoli JM, Lindley MC, DeSilva MB, et al., “Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Routine Pediatric Vaccine Ordering and Administration — United States, 2020,” MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:591–593,