Children and teen vaccination rates began plummeting with the onset of the pandemic, and as concerns surfaced around the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, some parents also began questioning the need for the long list of other vaccines recommended by public health officials.
In 2020, government orders to stay home — along with lockdown-produced job losses, public fear of COVID-19 and other factors — led to dramatic declines in in-person utilization of healthcare services among adults and children, both in the United States and globally.
“Well-baby” and “well-child” visits were some of the noteworthy casualties.
In the U.S., children’s and teen’s vaccination rates plummeted dramatically, falling that year by as much as 91% depending on the age group, including a noticeably lower uptake of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccines (DTaP or DTP), meningitis shots and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines.
Public health officials expected this “pandemic hangover” to dissipate by 2021, but instead, the change in parents’ vaccine-seeking behavior for their kids persisted.
Internationally, 6 million fewer children worldwide got at least one dose of DTP vaccine in 2021 versus 2019, causing the head of UNICEF to lament “the largest sustained drop in childhood immunization in a generation.”