COVID-19 vaccine can be bundled with routine childhood vaccinations, AAP says

It is acceptable for children to get the COVID-19 vaccine along with their routine childhood vaccinations, such as for the flu or chickenpox or measles, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

U.S. health officials gave the final sign-off to Pfizer’s kid-size COVID-19 shot on Nov. 2, a milestone that opened a major expansion of the nation’s vaccination campaign to children as young as 5. 

"Given the importance of routine vaccination and the need for rapid uptake of COVID-19 vaccines, the AAP supports coadministration of routine childhood and adolescent immunizations with COVID-19 vaccines (or vaccination in the days before or after) for children and adolescents who are behind on or due for immunizations and/or at increased risk from vaccine-preventable diseases," according to the AAP. 

In addition to the annual flu vaccine, children between the ages of 5 and 11 are recommended to get their next doses of the DTaP, which protects them from diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At this point, children should be getting their fifth dose of the DTaP. 

Another vaccine children in this age range should be scheduled for is (usually) a fourth dose of the polio vaccine and second doses of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and chickenpox vaccines, according to the CDC. 

Child COVID vaccine

FILE - A child receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at an elementary school vaccination site for children ages 5 to 11-year-old. (Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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Children between the ages of 11 and 12 are recommended to be scheduled for their Tdap vaccine, which is a booster dose of the DTaP vaccine regimen. And children in this age range are also advised by health care professionals to get their HPV shot and the first of two doses of the meningococcal vaccine, the CDC’s website says. 

Incidentally, because of the ongoing pandemic, children across the globe fell behind on their routine childhood vaccine schedules and parents are scrambling to catch up, according to data collected by the World Health Organization. 

About "23 million children missed out on basic vaccines through routine immunization services in 2020 – 3.7 million more than in 2019 - according to official data published today by WHO and UNICEF," the WHO said in a July news release. 

"Even as countries clamor to get their hands on COVID-19 vaccines, we have gone backwards on other vaccinations, leaving children at risk from devastating but preventable diseases like measles, polio or meningitis," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. "Multiple disease outbreaks would be catastrophic for communities and health systems already battling COVID-19, making it more urgent than ever to invest in childhood vaccination and ensure every child is reached." 

In the United States, nearly 1 in 10 adults between the ages of 18 and 64 said they delayed routine health care due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians, and nearly the same number of parents delayed care for their children for the same reason. 

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The AAFP’s report was based on data from the Urban Institute’s April 2021 Health Reform Monitoring Survey. 

"We have been focused for the last year and a half on the people who have gotten sick and died from COVID-19 (and) rightfully so," said family physician Lisa Doggett, M.D., M.P.H., senior medical director for HGS-AxisPoint Health and a 2021-2022 AAFP Vaccine Science Fellow. "But at the same time, many people of all ages have been jeopardizing their health by delaying or forgoing other kinds of medical care, including screening and diagnostic tests, well care, routine immunizations and followup for chronic conditions. We need to remind our patients now to catch up on missed care and help ensure they can receive that care safely." 

An updated vaccine claims-based analysis released by the health care consulting firm Avalere for September-November 2020 found persistent declines in the number of administered vaccines among U.S. adolescents and adults, finding an up to 35% decline in non-flu vaccines given to adolescents, and an up to 40% drop in shots administered among adults in 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, with an estimated 26 million missed doses across both age groups from January-November 2020. 

"There’s a long list of reasons why many people just didn't make it to the doctor's office and we’re seeing this now in kids as they head back to school and the effects of it," Dr. Tanya Altmann, LA-based pediatrician and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, told Fox News in June. "For some, it’s simply missed immunizations, but for others, there are conditions that we missed picking up whether it was talking to the parents about weight issues, scoliosis, anxiety or asthma." 

By November 2020, Blue Cross Blue Shield, which insures 1 in 3 Americans, noted an up to 26% drop in vaccinations for MMR, DTaP and polio between January- September 2020, and added that millions of missed vaccinations lower community protections against those diseases and heightens the risk of measles and whooping cough outbreaks. 

RELATED: Child COVID-19 vaccines help prevent new variants, experts say 

Altmann said most pediatric practices in the L.A.-area are busier than ever given the unusual summertime uptick of certain respiratory illnesses and parents seeking medical attention for children presenting suspected COVID-like symptoms. 

The Associated Press and FOX News contributed to this report.