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COACH for Kids Helps Families Catch Up on Childhood Vaccines

Skipping Routine Preventive Care Can Put Children in Danger of Serious Illness

COACH for Kids® is hitting the road to help parents get their children caught up on their standard childhood vaccines.

Throughout May, health professionals assigned to Cedars-Sinai's mobile medical unit will be dispensing free childhood vaccines at offices for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Click here for the clinic schedule and locations.  

While national attention has been focused on the COVID-19 vaccine, other vaccines—especially those that protect against childhood diseases—have been on the back burner for many families.

But as COVID-19 vaccination rates rise and the pandemic recedes, parents should make sure their children are fully protected from potentially deadly and disabling diseases, such as polio, measles, rubella and mumps.

"The danger remains in risks for future outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases," said Priya Soni, MD, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Cedars-Sinai. "As social distancing requirements relax, as COVID-19 risk becomes lower, as adults are now more and more vaccinated, children who miss out on their routine vaccines and are not fully vaccinated will be more vulnerable to these preventable illnesses, as they start mingling more and more with each other."

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released during the height of the pandemic, showed a noticeable drop in children receiving standard childhood vaccinations. Experts believe the drop-off was due to quarantine restrictions and general fears of bringing children to the doctor during the pandemic.

Cedars-Sinai COACH for Kids dispenses free vaccines in underserved communities, and the nurses on the COACH (Community Outreach Assistance for Children’s Health) medical mobile units have seen first-hand the decline in children's vaccinations.

"We have seen numerous infants and children coming in now who delayed receiving recommended childhood vaccines," said Antoinette Barrett, NP, CPNP, clinical supervisor of COACH for Kids. "Delaying these vaccines could lead to outbreaks of pertussis and measles, which have seen an uptick in recent years."

Soni said parents need to know that delaying vaccinations is more dangerous than seeking preventive healthcare.

"While we understood the early pandemic parental concerns about potentially exposing children to COVID-19 during well-child visits," Soni said, "now all clinics are fully functioning with appropriate personal protective equipment and social distancing measures, so it is safer to get the vaccine than to take a chance of contracting a preventable disease like polio."