NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has urged parents to get their children vaccinated to help keep them safe.
“The vaccination rate in this city, this is striking, the vaccination rate in this city has been falling during this crisis and the sheer magnitude of it has become clear to us in the last few days,” he said.
De Blasio attributes the decrease to fewer doctor’s offices staying open during the outbreak and families staying home.
The health department observed a 63% drop in administered vaccine doses from March 23 to May 9 compared to the same time last year.
Additionally, the city saw a 42% drop in the number of vaccinations for kids 2 years old or younger and a 91% drop in vaccines given to children older than two.
“Well, I’ll give you a comparison, the same six-week period of time last year, 2019 almost 400,000 doses were administered in this city in the six-week period this year, fewer than 150,000. So, something has to be done immediately to address this and we intend to work with parents and families to do that right now,” de Blasio said.
The CDC said approximately 2.5 million fewer doses of childhood vaccines were ordered in the first four months of 2020 compared to 2019. A dangerous 250,000 drop in orders of the measles vaccine was also reported.
The mayor said getting children vaccinated “is essential work” and also explained that vaccines prevent other illnesses in children. “A child who gets one of these diseases is likely to need to be hospitalized, and they’re likely to be more susceptible to contracting COVID,” the mayor warned.
Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot clarified that there is no current indication that there is a correlation with vaccination status for children and the multi-system inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) that has developed in children during the pandemic.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, meanwhile, has released new guidance on providing pediatric care during COVID-19.
Dr. Sara Siddiqui, from the NYU Langone Huntington Medical Group, said many pediatricians on Long Island are taking extra precautions to keep kids safe during their doctor visits, including eliminating the waiting room.
Many offices are having parents check in from their cars, where they wait until they are told the doctor is ready for their child.
Temperatures are checked as they walk in and everyone wears masks and gloves, Siddiqui said.
The exam rooms have always been cleaned but Siddiqui said they are more thorough now, using a special hospital grade cleaning solution known to kill the virus.
Nationally, routine pediatrician visits have dropped 80% since the pandemic started, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The World Health Organization also warned that children will die if vaccines are halted.
More than 20 diseases can be prevented with vaccines, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. Each year, more than 116 million infants are vaccinated, but more than 13 million kids are not. Tedros said the number of children not being vaccinated is rising because of coronavirus.
Those looking to get children vaccinated don’t need to go to a hospital facility, de Blasio reminded.
Vaccines are offered for free at over 1,000 NYC facilities as part of the Vaccines for Children program. Vaccines are also being offered at all 70 Health and Hospitals community health clinics.
To make an appointment, parents and guardians should call their child’s health care provider or call 844-NYC-4NYC.