New initiative helps parents and educators get more children and adolescents protected against potentially deadly diseases as they return to school buildings
During the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of children—at least one in five—have missed critical vaccinations that keep them healthy and our communities free from disease.
Students without these vaccinations may not be eligible to return to in-person learning in the fall. Even worse, losing herd immunity could put millions of unvaccinated children and adults at risk for deadly or debilitating diseases such as measles, whooping cough and polio.
Get Vax Facts
The Learning First Alliance (LFA) has launched a new public information campaign, “The Power to Protect,” and a new website, www.getvaxfacts.org, to remind parents and guardians of the need for these routine shots and how to obtain vaccinations at no cost if needed. LFA is a coalition of 12 national education groups representing 10 million parents, teachers, support staff, principals, superintendents, school board members, and teacher educators. This effort to encourage parents and caregivers to bring their children up to date on their vaccinations will help keep schools safe, students healthy and ready to learn, and allow for a safe return to in person classes in the fall.
According to a recent Blue Cross Blue Shield survey, 40% of parents say their children missed vaccinations due to COVID-19. Vaccines provide powerful protection against 16 serious diseases throughout a child’s lifetime and keep those diseases from spreading to others, including students, teachers, staff, and vulnerable community members.
“We know that caregivers are stressed and many have delayed doctor’s appointments or opted for telehealth appointments during the pandemic,” said Richard M. Long, executive director of the Learning First Alliance. “Childhood and adolescent vaccination rates in the United States have declined at an alarming rate as a result of missed appointments.”
Time is of the Essence
Time is of the essence particularly for adolescents who may soon be eligible to receive a COVID 19 vaccine. If a COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for children 12 and older, there is an extended period (about 54 days) before, during, or after getting the vaccine when they can’t receive another vaccination. That could limit a teen’s ability to get the COVID-19 vaccine or return to school in-person if they are off-schedule with their vaccinations.
“If vaccination rates continue to fall, these diseases will return, leading to new outbreaks in schools and communities even as we are all working to have more and more students attending in-person classes on a daily basis,” said Marla Ucelli-Kashyap, chair of the LFA board of directors and Assistant to the President for Educational Issues at the American Federation of Teachers. “And that is the last thing anyone wants to see as we are finally gaining ground on COVID-19.”
This website, www.Getvaxfacts.org, has information on each of the 16 diseases and conditions that are protected by vaccinations for children and adolescents, charts for scheduling vaccines and information on how to obtain a free vaccination. The website is part of a larger campaign to engage educators to help publicize the need for routine childhood vaccines and dangers of going without, including podcasts with leading experts speaking about the challenges.
Learn more at www.getvaxfacts.org.