Philadelphia sees drop in kids’ routine vaccinations
More parents are skipping required vaccines for their school-aged children.
What’s happening: Only 82.2% of kindergarteners in district-run schools had all five mandatory immunizations for illnesses such as mumps and chickenpox during the 2021-22 school year, Christina Clark, spokesperson for the School District of Philadelphia, told Axios.
- That’s down from an 89.9% immunization rate for kindergarteners during the 2019-20 school year.
Zoom in: Immunization rates for 7th graders and 12th graders — who require additional vaccines — also dropped last year compared to pre-pandemic times, according to state data released last month.
- 7th graders require the Tdap and meningococcal conjugate (MCV4), while 12th graders need a second dose of the latter.
Why it matters: Gaps in vaccinations make everyone more vulnerable, with some of the city’s population affected more than others.
- Philadelphia's under-vaccinated African American and Hispanic communities face higher risk from complications caused by preventable diseases due to barriers in accessing adequate healthcare.
What they’re saying: Kendra McDow, a system medical officer for the school district, said the drop in vaccination rates for kindergarteners is “very concerning.”
- “These are vaccine-preventable diseases, like polio, like measles,” she said.
State of play: New York declared a state disaster over polio on Friday after an unvaccinated individual tested positive.
- Meanwhile, Philadelphia’s COVID-19 wastewater surveillance program does not test for other infectious diseases, such as polio.
Between the lines: In hopes of reversing the trend and boosting rates for the 2022-23 school year, the district bolstered its outreach and held 16 vaccination events this past summer.
- More than 700 K-12 students received a combination of vaccinations and sports physicals at those events, McDow said.
What’s next: The district anticipates holding more vaccination events for students this year.
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