Disruption caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic may be to blame for a steep decline in the number of vaccinations in New York City.
Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday urged New Yorkers to ensure their children get their necessary vaccinations on the usual schedule, despite any concerns over COVID-19, or there could be another health crisis subsequent to the novel coronavirus.
"The vaccination rate in this city — this is striking — the vaccination rate in this city has been falling during this crisis and the sheer magnitude of it has become clear to us during the last few days," he said.
The number of vaccine doses administered in NYC over the last six weeks, compared to the same period in 2019, has dropped 63 percent overall, NBC 4 New York reports.
Vaccines in children 2 years old and younger are down 42 percent, while vaccines in children over 2 years old are down 91 percent.
De Blasio said the city will address the issue "immediately" and work with families to get as many kids back on schedule as possible.
"The vaccines, for example, that prevent respiratory illnesses in our kids that prevent diseases like pneumonia, that is important any time," de Blasio said. "We never want to see any of our children in danger...But if that were to happen this year, it comes with greater dangers."
He added that an unvaccinated child who gets a preventable disease could be at greater risk of then getting COVID-19 in addition.
City health officials raised alarm two weeks ago amid reports of a COVID-19-related inflammatory disease, similar to toxic shock syndrome and Kawasaki disease, that has been found in children, teens and young adults.
State officials have already warned people not to delay medical care over COVID concerns. De Blasio said the city believes a combination of doctor's office closures, school closures and COVID fears are probably responsible for the startling drop in vaccinations.
Vaccinations are offered for free at more than 1,000 city facilities that are part of the Vaccines for Children Program, as well as at all Health and Hospital clinics.
Parents are also encouraged to contact a child's health provider to set up an appointment or call 844-NYC-4NYC.
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