This August, during National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) will encourage parents/caregivers to communicate with their pediatricians about childhood and adolescent vaccines so they can ensure immunizations are up to date if their child has fallen behind schedule. The AAP also notes that it is also an opportunity to inquire about COVID-19 vaccines and make sure their child is protected before school begins this fall.

NIAM is an annual observance held in August to emphasize the significance of vaccination for individuals of all ages. This year, just weeks after the approval of a COVID-19 vaccine for children aged younger than 5 years, the observance offers an opportunity to urge parents to have important conversations with their child’s pediatrician about vaccines that can aid in building immunity against COVID-19 and other diseases that are still circulating.

In a recent press release, the AAP indicated that an estimated 25 million children around the world missed their childhood immunizations last year due to the pandemic, the greatest regression in routine immunization in 3 decades, according to UNICEF and the World Health Organization. Moreover, the AAP indicated that findings from the CDC reveal that in the United States, childhood immunization rates also dropped to 94% in 2020 from 95%—a decline that continued into the 2020-21 school year—indicating tens of thousands more children in the U.S. are unprotected against certain diseases.

AAP President, Moira Szilagyi, MD, PhD, FAAP, stated, “Immunization rates for childhood vaccines are down, which leaves children vulnerable to whooping cough, measles, mumps, COVID-19, and more. Falling immunization rates around the world signal that we could see more preventable disease outbreaks, as more people begin traveling once again. Your child’s back-to-school check-up is a good time to talk with your pediatrician about catching up on vaccines, including the COVID vaccine. Vaccines are safe and they save lives. Your pediatrician is ready to answer all your health and immunization questions.”

During August, the AAP will promote new and updated resources, including an updated interactive immunization map, “Child Vaccination Across America,” offering data on childhood vaccine rates state by state. This update will include tutorials to help teach users how to access this powerful tool and allows journalists and families to check local vaccine rates. Map data are collected from the CDC National Immunization Survey and are updated annually.

Other new resources for the AAP include an interactive tool for parents to find answers about vaccines. Conversations About Vaccines, available in English and Spanish, answers frequently asked questions and offers links to parent-friendly information, animations, and brief video explainers from pediatricians. Families can browse common questions at their own pace and share links to individual questions and answers.

Dr. Szilagyi also noted, “The swift development of effective vaccines against COVID-19 is truly a scientific achievement. Now that the vaccine is authorized for children as young as six months, we can offer this protection to millions more children. If you have any questions about COVID-19 vaccines or the other immunizations that are recommended for children and teens, this is a good time to talk with your pediatrician so you can make sure your child is protected before school starts in the fall.”

The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Reliance on any information provided in this article is solely at your own risk.

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