A New Pandemic? Students Missing Routine Vaccinations

By Richard M. Long

New federal data shows many families have skipped routine vaccinations needed for school admissions during the Covid-19 pandemic

While schools have been focused on the instructional and safety issues related to the Covid-19 pandemic, a new challenge has emerged: Students have missed getting their regular vaccinations for measles, smallpox, and other diseases. These are mandatory vaccines needed to enroll and attend public and other schools.

New data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, The CDC, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, upwards of 30% of early adolescents have missed their ‘shots’ for the current school year. For younger populations, the number of missed vaccinations is more than 10%.  All of this impacts the wider community. 

At these rates over time, infectious disease specialists are estimating that 20 million U.S. children are expected to become sick and 42,000 children could die from preventable diseases.

The diseases that crippled and killed children in our grandparents’ lifetimes may re-emerge.

What can be done?  First, the medical and education communities are working to alert the parents, guardians and communities. Our community leaders are encouraging everyone to either go to their doctors or to community or school-based clinics to get immunizations. There is federal legislation to make vaccines accessible to all without cost.

Second, we’re asking education advocates to make sure your school, community, and families are aware of these vaccinations and the potential for widespread disease. We need you to tell your colleagues that there is a problem, but this is one that we actually know how to handle.  Remember, this diseases have been contained before through awareness and action.

The Learning First Alliance will be monitoring this issue and will have more information as it is released.


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Student getting vaccine shot in arm

photo courtesy of CDC