Maryland’s youth are forgoing COVID-19 and routine vaccinations, raising severe concerns among public health experts.
The Baltimore Sun reports vaccination rates among Maryland youth are falling behind for influenza (flu), human papillomavirus (HPV), and measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccines. The latter is of particular concern to Dr. William Moss, the Johns Hopkins International Vaccine Access Center’s Executive Director. In a quote provided to the Sun, Dr. Moss explained his concerns:
“I’m most worried about measles; we know it’s very contagious… I’ve been tracking it through the pandemic globally, and I do think communities in the United States, including in Maryland, are going to be at increased risk,” he said. “Measles does not respect borders or stay in one place, and it moves quickly.”
In addition to the diseases listed above, Maryland law requires students to receive immunizations for chickenpox, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B, and meningitis.
At an earlier stage in the pandemic, ImmuNet, Maryland’s immunization information system, showed that the overall number of vaccine doses administered to children ages 0-18 in April 2020 compared with April 2019 was down by 56 percent. As a result, in May of 2020, the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) issued a public service announcement to improve pediatric vaccination rates.
Concerning COVID-19, MDH reports over 750,000 Maryland youth 19 years old or younger have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Regardless, according to the Sun, children have the lowest rates of COVID-19 vaccinations, with “58% of those aged 5 to 17 fully inoculated.”