As many schools are set to reopen online classes, the crucial vaccination program may suffer this year. Across many schools in the US, vaccination efforts play an important role in preventing various infections among children. As per law, children need to have certain immunizations before they can be enrolled to attend classes.
However, the ongoing corona virus pandemic has affected every sector, and educational institutions are not reopening in a regular way. As health experts have given warnings about the chances of infection rates increasing if schools are reopened for in-person classes, most of the states have decided in favor of online classes. While this reduces the risk of corona virus infection among kids, they may miss other vaccinations that are usually provided every year. The vaccination laws ensure that children are kept safe from various preventable diseases. Public health officials have made good use of the schools as a means to control such diseases by providing timely vaccines to school children.
The trend first emerged in 1850 when smallpox was a huge menace, and it became easy for the authorities to control such pandemics through mass vaccination programs at schools. Most states have strict regulations with regards to vaccinations, and this can undoubtedly prevent diseases like mumps, measles, and polio. Unless a child has a specific medical exemption, vaccination is compulsory, and students have to take it before attending classes. Only some states allow exemptions for religious reasons or philosophical reasons. According to public health experts, kindergarten is a good place to get the pending vaccines to children so that they stay up to date with the rest of the kids. The local school nurse will be in charge of keeping track of such vaccinations for all the students.
When the schools do not have a nurse for this task, the regular administrator can do the job. Government health officials monitor such activities and get compliance reports from schools regarding the vaccination programs. However, this year, the pandemic has caused a severe decline in the number of vaccinations, according to reports from the CDC. The health department in Pennsylvania had to suspend vaccine requirements for two months in July after the start of the school year due to the ongoing pandemic. Considering the situation, school and public health nurses may not be able to hold catch-up vaccination clinics in schools this year.
In many regions, it has been several months since they have recorded vaccination visits for children, and this is an alarming thing for many health experts. The pandemic has undoubtedly had an effect on pediatric care. However, there is also a bright side to this situation as health experts observe that children are less likely to catch infection or illness when they are not attending schools and not to participate in large gatherings. The CDC data about measles show that there were only 12 cases of measles reported till August this year as compared to about 1282 cases in 2019.
But the risks will come back once schools open for in-person classes. Once the schools reopen in a regular manner, the authorities may implement stricter rules with regards to vaccinations in the future. In New York, school-based health centers are approaching parents about vaccination programs. However, the response to such requests is not encouraging, and similar trends can be seen in several different cities. Many students are missing vaccinations this year, even due to migration issues. As the pandemic has resulted in job loss and other problems, some parents have moved on to different states, and it has become hard for the public health officials to keep track of the students.
Some parents feel that as the children are not attending schools, they can skip vaccinations for some more time. Also, the threat of coronavirus is still looming large, and parents do not want to risk taking kids outside for vaccinations. However, health officials believe that it is not a good idea to postpone such vaccinations as the vaccines deliver the best results when a proper schedule is maintained. The health officials will have a tough time ahead for at least another year as they will now have to deal with Covid 19 vaccine and the regular vaccines. Even as the medical industry is struggling to find a suitable vaccine worldwide, the number of cases is not showing any signs of decline in most parts of the US. Considering this trend, experts believe that it may take another few months before a reliable vaccine can reach the common public. Till then, they have to depend on preventive measures and take good care about their kids and family members.
There are some hopes that the vaccine may be delivered by the end of this year. However, mass production of the vaccine and the huge amount of logistics involved in supplying the vaccines to millions of vulnerable people makes it a difficult task. In this regard, the authorities have to plan the in-person opening of schools in a structured way in the future. The schools reopening for online classes is seen as a welcome move by many parents and health experts. The probability of children getting affected with corona virus is less when compared to that of adults. Even in this situation, the authorities cannot take the situation lightly as they will be left with a huge problem if the corona virus outbreak happens in schools.
As the number of cases is still not on the declining side, it will become a huge problem if kids are getting affected by this virus. To prevent such things, it is a better idea to stick with online classes for the rest of the year. Once a suitable vaccine is delivered for the Covid19 disease, children can safely get back to schools, and health officials can include the Covid19 vaccines along with the regular vaccination programs conducted in schools. In this way, they can ensure the safety of children in the long run and keep up to date with the vaccine programs in the future.