Routine well-child checkups are key to detecting and preventing disease and promoting healthy behaviors. These checkups are often where children receive routine vaccinations. However, as a result of COVID-19, fewer children received well-child checkups and routine vaccinations over the past year. Delayed/missed vaccinations puts children and adolescents (and potentially those around them) at risk for preventable diseases like measles and meningitis. The CDC has reported a 14% drop in public sector vaccine (Vaccines for Children) ordering in 2020-21 compared to 2019, and a 20% drop in ordering of measles vaccine.
MCH professionals are well-poised to partner with pediatric primary care providers, state immunization programs, community-based organizations, and families to assure that all children receive all recommended vaccines, including routine and COVID-19 vaccines. In HHS: What Works and What Doesn’t in COVID-19 Vaccine Outreach, the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) provides an overview of lessons learned from vaccine programs and gives several examples of federal and state programs that could serve as models for new strategies.
Opportunities for State Title V Programs
- Consider partnering with local chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians, and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to promote COVID-19 and routine immunizations for MCH populations.
- Facilitate innovative partnerships with pediatric providers to provide timely access to COVID-19 vaccinations for children and adolescents.
- Team up with community partners to increase demand for vaccination.
Routine Pediatric Immunization
- Share and promote similar communication campaign materials to ensure consistent messages from the public health, obstetric, and pediatric providers.
- Consider using this Community-Based Organizations COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit from the CDC.
- Share available and emerging information about the COVID-19 vaccine with parents, caregivers, families, pregnant and lactating individuals, and constituents to facilitate their access to the vaccine.
- Share the Vaccines.gov or texting service information to assist families with finding a vaccine site near them:
- Text a zip code to 4-3-8-8-2-9 to get three locations with vaccines in stock.
- If information in Spanish is preferred, text a zip code to 8-2-2-8-6-2.
Routine Pediatric Immunization
- Text and/or send reminders to families about school immunization requirements.
- Follow up with families of underimmunized children using the state’s immunization information system’s recall-reminder capacity to notify families and adolescents to encourage vaccination.
- Promote the importance of well-visits including developmental surveillance and screening.
Routine Pediatric Immunization
- Consider collaborating with key partners to support outreach to adolescents, women, families, and providers including:
- State Medicaid agencies and managed care organizations to help identify children and adolescents who are behind on routine immunizations and support providers in outreach and catch-up activities.
- State and local education agencies to promote safe return to school and compliance with state and local immunization requirements.
- State and local early care and education providers to help encourage catch-up of routine immunizations and compliance with state and local immunization requirements.
How States are Making Progress: Title V Bright Spots
- Monitoring: The Arizona Partnership for Immunization monitors monthly well-visits and childhood immunization coverage data to identify issues that need attention.
- Clinics: Schools, health plans, and state and local agencies host clinics in communities focused on COVID-19 vaccination to also catch kids up on critical routine immunizations.
- Arizona Speakers Bureau:
Addresses both COVID-19 and routine immunizations through formal and informal discussions with parent groups.
- Trainings: Quarterly trainings for social workers, home visitors and child care providers on talking to parents about the importance of on-time childhood immunizations.
- Medical Home: Creating a culture of immunizations within the medical home by including everyone in the practice, from the front desk to the exam room.
- Immunization Resources: Making immunizations resources easy for parents/caregivers to find.
- Positive Vaccine Messaging: Providing positive and effective recommendations, and consistent messaging, from trusted healthcare professionals in the medical home.
- Drive-Thru: Tennessee Department of Health partnership with Nashville Diaper Connection provides free diapers, food boxes and TN Medicaid registration when families attend drive-thru school, COVID-19 or flu vaccination events.
- Partnership: Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality switched to the impact of COVID-19 on preventive care for pediatric patients including immunizations.
- Information Sharing: Shared resources during National Immunization Month.
- Webinar: Staff hosted a webinar on Managing Child and Adolescent Health During the Pandemic
- Monitoring: Measuring adolescent well-visits and adding HPV, immunizations, and behavioral health.
- Local Response: Maintaining well-child visits using a combination of vaccination clinics and telehealth appointments, drive-thru vaccination clinics; clinic staff calling families to catch up on vaccinations.
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