Maryland Department of Health (MDH) plans outreach to raise immunization rates impacted by pandemic
News Release, Maryland Department of Health
Baltimore, MD – Governor Larry Hogan today issued a state proclamation highlighting National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) in August, continuing efforts to raise awareness about the importance of childhood vaccines and getting vaccinated annually for the flu. National Immunization Awareness Month is an annual observance established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to stress the importance of vaccinations for people of all ages.
“We are committed to protecting the health of all Marylanders and routine vaccinations are an essential part of the equation,” said Governor Hogan. “While many people have been reluctant to venture out for routine matters, it is essential to keep all vaccinations up-to-date to protect our families and communities from preventable diseases.”
Childhood vaccinations across Maryland have fallen since the onset of COVID-19 earlier this year, mirroring a trend identified by the CDC nationwide.
According to the MDH Immunization Information System, ImmuNet, the largest decrease in the number of vaccinations given to children 0-18 years of age was in April 2020 with a decrease of 46 percent when compared with April 2019. In June 2020, that percent decrease was reduced to 14 percent when compared with June 2019.
To reverse this trend, the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) last month won a $250,000 grant from the Pfizer Foundation, which will be used to conduct outreach to individuals, communities, and health care providers through communication, marketing and vaccination clinics in areas showing the most significant declines.
“We are working closely with community and health partners to make vaccinations easily available and safe for families, even as the pandemic continues,” said Secretary of Health Robert R. Neall. “Pediatricians and primary care providers across the state have measures in place, such as social distancing and mask-wearing. We strongly encourage Maryland families to take care of their health and make an appointment for important visits and essential care, like vaccinations.”
To increase access to underserved populations, MDH will coordinate with Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Local Health Departments (LHDs) to host vaccination clinics. Officials are also assessing the capability to provide vaccination clinics via mobile units deployed into communities.
The CDC offers toolkits for both Communicating with Healthcare Professionals and for Communicating with Parents and Patients. For more resources to share during NIAM, please see the CDC Recognizing National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) page.
Information and resources regarding COVID-19 are available at coronavirus.maryland.gov.