Health leaders are ‘cheering’ for childhood vaccines as student vaccination rates drop – New Hampshire Bulletin

Health experts say the number of Granite State students on the state’s many vaccines for school attendance is going in the wrong direction. The trend is playing out nationally as well, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Reported Earlier this month.

Experts say New Hampshire has seen that even a small drop in vaccination rates increases the likelihood of communicable diseases spreading within a school and beyond. For measles specifically, the CDC said the 93.5 percent vaccination rate among the nation’s kindergartners still puts 250,000 of their peers at risk of becoming infected.

Health experts said vaccine skepticism, which has hindered advancing a COVID-19 vaccine, plays a role, but it is hardly the driver. Nor is the religious exemption, which so dominated legislative debate last session that lawmakers sought to make it easier for parents to obtain.

The percentage of students who are up to date on mandatory childhood vaccines has plummeted through the pandemic. Health experts cite the challenge of meeting a doctor during the COVID-19 health crisis. (Screenshot: Department of Health and Human Services)

Religious exemptions for all students have decreased since the 2019-2020 school year, when 2.5 percent of parents requested one, to 1 percent this year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. (The COVID-19 vaccine spurred changes in exemption requests but not requirements to attend school and child care facilities.)

Dr. Eric Schessler, chairman of general pediatrics and associate medical director for Dartmouth Health Children’s and vice president of the New Hampshire chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, says there are two other culprits responsible for declining vaccination rates: staff shortages and the epidemic of children. made it difficult for children to get their annual physicals, where providers update vaccines and check the child’s overall mental and physical health. And, some families are not making it a priority to reschedule those missed visits.

“One of the things we have to do across the state and the country is do a little bit of cheerleading again, like, ‘No, not having your regular physical is a big deal,'” Schesler said. “Like any kind of pandemic or any disaster, people were expecting the sky to fall, and when the sky didn’t fall, it was like, ‘Okay, I’ll get it back, but not now. I’ll get there when I’ll get there.”

Schesler and other public health experts are urging parents to reschedule missed appointments as soon as possible. But they caution that vaccination rates won’t drop immediately because providers are dealing with a surge in flu and RSV cases while trying to reschedule adults and children who delayed care during the pandemic.

“We’re behind and so you add their delay and our delay, and you get behind with vaccines,” Schussler said.

State law requires children attending private or public school or child care facilities to have several vaccines: diphtheria, mumps, pertussis, poliomyelitis, rubella, rubella, and tetanus. The Department of Health and Human Services, which may also mandate vaccines, requires vaccines for hepatitis B and chickenpox, and vaccines that protect against meningitis, epiglottitis, and pneumonia.

The department will lose its authority to mandate vaccines House Bill 557, which would only allow MPs to make changes. Wilton’s sponsoring representative, Jim Kofalt, said that while the department has been “very restrained” in adding new vaccines, he is concerned that every vaccine recommended by a future Health and Human Services commissioner will be added. CDC or the COVID-19 vaccine.

“It should be something that the Legislature decides and not the person who runs the agency,” he said.

Health and Human Services spokeswoman Laura Montenegro said the percentage of students in public and private schools who are up to date on mandated vaccines has dropped from 95 to 93 percent. As per the records of the department, there has been a decrease of 2 to 4 percent in the vaccination rate among private school students. Religious exemption rates are also higher among private school students. Last school year, the most recent available deadline, 4 percent of students were exempted from mandatory vaccines for religious reasons, twice the number of public school students.

Outside the public health world, a drop of two percentage points may seem minor, especially when rates remain above 90 percent. But for some vaccines, a drop below a rate in the high 80s risks herd immunity, which public health experts say is necessary to contain the outbreak.

“We don’t want to lose our fantastic vaccination rates within the state and now suddenly have to deal with a measles outbreak or a pertussis outbreak and hospitalize a lot of kids,” Schesler said.

Measles was declared “eliminated” in the United States in 2000. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the decline in vaccination rates has coincided with a rise in cases. (Screenshot: CDC)

According to the CDC, measles was declared “eliminated” in the United States in 2000 due to high vaccination rates. This is no longer true,

In 2019, 1,274 cases were reported. The number declined during the pandemic when people were wearing masks and social distancing, but is rising again from 49 cases in 2021 and 121 last year. Measles outbreak in Ohio in November 85 students infected72 of whom had not received the mumps, measles, rubella combination vaccine.

“It’s about taking the community into perspective,” said Ryan Tanion, chief of the Department of Infectious Disease Control’s Bureau of Health and Human Services. “We have seen examples across the country where there have been outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. And, you know, our goal is to keep kids in school and not close school because of a vaccine-preventable disease.”

Tannion said an outbreak of flu in New Hampshire without the necessary vaccine has forced the state’s schools to close. They have not reported outbreaks of diseases with the mandatory vaccines, he said.

Like Schesler, Tanian said declining childhood vaccination rates has expanded the department’s immunization reach beyond helping communities by making vaccines readily available in schools or local clinics.

“We’re trying to make sure people choose to vaccinate their children,” Tanian said. “And then, in the meantime, we want to make sure that anyone who may have missed out, or didn’t have access, or wasn’t able to get those routine vaccines, is caught up and up to date.”

Hallie Wilkins of Heniker’s is not one of those people who missed the chance to get her 3-year-old daughter, Jovi, vaccinated. She and her husband decided not to vaccinate him.

Wilkins’ opposition to all vaccines began with an abortion that had nothing to do with vaccines. Instead, Wilkins began to question all medical recommendations, including vaccinations, after an internal ultrasound concluded her baby had died several weeks into the pregnancy.

Before her second pregnancy with Jovi, Wilkins and her husband, Cody, discussed delaying recommended childhood vaccines. He eventually decided to forgo all vaccinations. She has spread her research with others through Facebook groups and through her business, Jovial Birth and Postpartum Services, which focuses on natural birth and care.

“The day I had[my daughter]I just looked at her and I was like, ‘Wow, I could never inject her with anything if I’m going to risk injuring or killing her,'” Wilkins. he said. “So then I was like, let’s sit down and look at every single shot and what it’s supposed to, quote-quote, defend against.”

They decided that none was worth the risk to Jovi and their second child along the way.

Schesler and Tanian said it is impossible to know how many parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children over health concerns about the vaccine or religious objection.

“There is a huge population that uses every vaccine we give. There is a small and vocal population that does not vaccinate at all,” Schussler said. “And then there’s a big part in the middle where you’ll hear the term ‘vaccine hesitancy.’ We’re trying to move people from one side of that spectrum to the other to improve their vaccine confidence. And for that information Having a reliable source is incredibly important.”

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