Millions of children are behind on critical vaccinations - MetroFamily Magazine
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Millions of children are behind on critical vaccinations

by Richard Long, Learning First Alliance

Reading Time: 3 minutes 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of children—at least one in five—have missed critical vaccinations that keep them healthy and 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.

The Learning First Alliance (LFA) has launched a new public information campaign, “The Power to Protect,” and a new website,, 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 particularly for younger kids who may soon be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

“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,, 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 the dangers of going without, including podcasts with leading experts speaking about the challenges. Learn more at

Did You Know?

  • At least one in five children has fallen behind on their routine vaccinations. 40% of parents say their children missed routine vaccinations because of COVID-19. Millions of children and adolescents are behind on critical immunizations that will keep them safe and allow for a return to in-person learning.
  • There has been a 71% drop in healthcare visits for 7- 17-year-olds, ages when critical vaccines like Tdap, HPV, pertussis and meningitis are given. Millions of children and adolescents are behind on critical immunizations that will keep them safe and allow for a return to in-person learning.
  • 94% of families nationwide choose to vaccinate each year — it’s a powerful defense that’s safe, proven, & effective.
  • Most childhood vaccines are covered by insurance or of charge to children who otherwise may not be able to afford them.

About the Learning First Alliance

The Learning First Alliance is a partnership of leading education organizations with more than 10 million members dedicated to improving student learning in America’s public schools. Alliance members include American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education; AASA: The School Superintendents Association; American Federation of Teachers; American School Counselor Association; Consortium for School Networking; Learning Forward; National Association of Elementary School Principals; National Association of Secondary School Principals; National Education Association; National PTA; National School Boards Association and National School Public Relations Association.

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