Vaccine delays for toddlers

Parents, get ready for it. Soon, vaccines for some toddlers will be pushed back up to two years.

CoVID-19 (chubby chin vaccinations), a series of six vaccines covering diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, pertussis (known as whooping cough), polio and measles, mumps and rubella, will be delayed. The vaccine was put on hold for several years while the CDC studied the studies on its safety.

Dr. Walter Orenstein, a vaccine epidemiologist at the CDC, says that the risk is “about 5% but with this reduction in protection you might have some lifelong complication of the disease, such as a stroke or autism.”

Scientists were skeptical about long-term health effects associated with the vaccine when it was approved in 2002 because it was the first whooping cough vaccine introduced since the 1940s. But they since realized it reduced risk of a serious illness, such as pneumonia, by 90% in those who had it.

About 500 children are infected with whooping cough each year, according to the CDC. However, those who get the vaccine have “significantly lower risks of having apertussis or being hospitalized,” according to Orenstein.

The delay in the vaccine “has very minimal impact on our overall protection level” for children, Orenstein said. “But we think having a couple years after the first booster will certainly give people additional time to be fully protected with this vaccine.”

Orenstein said he doesn’t anticipate the delay “being as dramatic as some might expect.” The initial vaccine will still be given, and it will not be needed before ages 2 and 4. However, the other four will need to be done sometime after kindergarten. It will be on the schedule from the youngest children to 8 and 9 years old.

The flu shot will not be affected. The department is moving the schedule by one week.

In other words, if your child is around 7-months-old and above (approximately), by the time the flu season begins in the fall, he or she should receive flu shot or a new childhood vaccine called MEVAF (measles, mumps, rubella).

When the vaccine got delayed, Orenstein said, “the vaccine herd immunity was reduced by around 5%, and we think having that slight reduction in herd immunity is worth going through with.”

Orenstein said the vaccines should be administered right after the first of every month. “Vaccines should be administered as soon as you can possibly get a nurse or a doctor and take care of this. Parents should go on to get those vaccines to be fully protected with those vaccines.”

The CDC recommendations do not change the vaccination schedule for adults.

This delay is a great opportunity for parents to learn about the science behind vaccines, Orenstein said. “We want to let people know, look at the results of these studies and make sure people who are in high-risk populations get the booster shots in order to be protected against these diseases. So they should seek these from a pediatrician.”

There is a weak link in the schedule — the shot for diptheria, tetanus and whooping cough is given in the early part of the year. The childhood whooping cough vaccine, but not diptheria, is given after the three flu shots.

By Katherine Harmon, CNN

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