NEW YORK - The city's vaccination rate among children has plummeted in recent weeks, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday, raising alarm about yet another unintended consequence of the ongoing coronavirus health crisis.
“Getting your child vaccinated is essential work. Getting your child vaccinated is a reason to leave your home,” de Blasio said during his daily coronavirus briefing from City Hall.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 health crisis in early March, the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has recorded a precipitous drop in vaccination rates.
Vaccinations for children two years old or younger have seen a 42 percent decrease. For children older than two, the city has recorded a 91 percent drop in the vaccination rate.
Children are recommended to receive several vaccines to protect them from harmful diseases, including polio, measles, mumps, the chicken pox, whooping cough, and Rubella, among others.
“The vaccination rate in this city has been falling in this crisis, and the sheer magnitude of it has become clear over the past few days,” de Blasio said.
With the city’s stay-at-home order, many doctors' offices closed, and non-emergency medical procedures delayed, parents are also delaying preventative care for their children.
For comparison, during the same six-week period of time last year in early March to now, doctors administered nearly 400,000 vaccines to city children. In that same six-week period this year, the city recorded fewer than 150,000.
There is no evidence that an ongoing outbreak of multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), which has been found to be related to COVID-19 and is affecting more than 140 children across the city, is related to the drop in vaccinations. But officials warned that letting children go without their shots makes them more susceptible to disease and complications.
“A child who gets one of these diseases is likely to need to be hospitalized and they're likely to be more susceptible to contracting COVID. We know that anybody with a preexisting condition can be more vulnerable to COVID,” de Blasio said.
Free vaccinations are available across the city and the city’s Health + Hospitals is offering vaccinations at every community health clinic. To make an appointment, call 1-844-NYC-4NYC.
Mayor Says Pandemic Impacting Census Response in City
The mayor also took time during his update to ask all New Yorkers to fill out the 2020 Census, as the ability to get an accurate count has put in serious danger by the pandemic.
De Blasio says the city currently has a 49 percent response rate, lagging behind the national average of 59 percent.
The Census determines how approximately $650 billion in federal funding is allocated - money that the mayor says is especially critical during this crisis.
"That means funding for hospitals, that means money for food assistance, we all are talking about food lately. That money is federal money in so many cases. The food stamps, the SNAP benefits. Money that goes to infrastructure to schools, transportation, mass transit -- so many things revolve around that federal funding that we depend on in this city," de Blasio said.
To fill out the Census, you can go to my2020census.gov.
It can also be completed by mail or over the phone.
It takes only a few minutes to fill out, and there are no questions regarding citizenship or immigration status.
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