Alexandria Health Department Urges Residents to Stay Current on Vaccinations

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Alexandria Health Department Urges Residents to Stay Current on Vaccinations

­­For Immediate Release: August 11, 2020

With vaccination rates down during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alexandria Health Department (AHD) urges residents to stay current on lifesaving vaccines. In a recent news article, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) noted that the Virginia Immunization Information System (VIIS) shows a drop of nearly a third in childhood vaccinations compared to last year. Later this week, AHD will publish its Strategic Action Framework for vaccinations.

The following graphs compare statewide pediatric and adult vaccinations for each week in January through June, in 2019 and 2020. Vaccinations dropped sharply at the start of the pandemic. Although the rate is rebounding, it is still well below that of last year. For example, there were fewer than 40,000 pediatric vaccinations administered in the last week of July 2020, compared to more than 60,000 during the same week in 2019.

August is National Immunization Awareness Month. AHD, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American Academy of Pediatrics remind you that it is important to call your pediatrician or primary care provider to ensure you and your family are up to date on recommended vaccines during this pandemic. As children head back to school, make sure vaccination is at the top of the checklist. Even if a child is not attending school in person, vaccines are still required to attend school virtually. 

Vaccines help prevent deaths. According to CDC estimates, 3,500 deaths were prevented due to the influenza vaccine during the 2018-2019 flu season. Achieving optimal rates of vaccinations is necessary to ensure everyone is safe in the community. Multiple states experienced an unprecedented increase in measles cases last year due to undervaccination, despite the disease being effectively eliminated as of 2016. When individuals do not stay up to date on vaccines, they are at risk for preventable infections; community or “herd” immunity wanes; and there is an increased risk of outbreaks.

In the setting of the COVID-19 pandemic, routine vaccinations are more important than ever. If individuals become sick with COVID-19 and another vaccine-preventable disease at the same time, such as the flu, illness may be more severe. In addition, combating multiple outbreaks at the same time would overwhelm the healthcare and public health system. Scientists are working hard to develop a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. Until a vaccine is widely available, everyone can take steps now to help keep us all safe, including practicing physical distancing; wearing masks; washing hands frequently; and staying up to date on routine vaccinations. 

Anyone who needs help receiving healthcare or vaccinations should call AHD’s immunizations clinic at 703.746.4888 to schedule an appointment. 

For inquiries from the news media or reasonable disability accommodation only, contact Andrea Blackford, Senior Communications Officer, at andrea.blackford@alexandriava.gov or 703.746.3959, Virginia Relay 711.

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This news release is available at alexandriava.gov/117192.

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