The CDC is warning about possible outbreaks of diseases, including measles, as immunizations fall amid the coronavirus pandemic. The organization analyzed immunization data on children in Michigan up to the age of 2, finding a drop in vaccinations for all diseases except hepatitis B—a vaccine typically administered in hospitals at birth. As of May, fewer than half of children who were 5 months old had received the recommended vaccinations, compared to two-thirds of children in that age group from 2016 to 2019, reports CNBC. Just 70.9% of 16-month-olds had been vaccinated for measles as of this month, compared to 76.1% in May 2019.
The declines "might leave young children and communities vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles," according to the CDC. "If measles vaccination coverage of 90%–95% (the level needed to establish herd immunity) is not achieved, measles outbreaks can occur." Matthew Boulton, a professor of epidemiology and preventive medicine at the University of Michigan, tells the New York Times that parents need to get children vaccinated now that certain services are opening up. "This literally could set us back years in our control of vaccine-preventable diseases, in both high- and low-income countries," he says. "It's a really scary thought." (Read more CDC stories.)