BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland’s health department has been awarded funds to focus on addressing a “steep decline” in childhood vaccination rates statewide due to the coronavirus pandemic.

They’ve been awarded $250,000, the department said in a release Tuesday.

The grant will be used for communication, outreach and vaccination clinics in the areas that are showing the most significant decline, the department said.

The largest decrease in the number of vaccinations given to children 0-18 was in April 2020 with a drop of 46 percent compared to April 2019, according to the MDH Immunization Information System.

For childhood vaccines, the largest decreases were seen in measles, mumps, rubella vaccine, with a decrease of 65 percent in April 2020 compared to April 2019.

 “Childhood vaccines are not optional – they are essential for keeping young people safe from infectious diseases. We urge all Marylanders to get their children vaccinated as soon as possible to reverse this dangerous trend,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “It is important that we protect our youngest and most vulnerable Marylanders against multiple diseases, not just COVID-19.”

By June 2020, that percent decrease was reduced to 14 percent when compared to June of last year.

“Although there was some improvement in June over previous months, there are still a large number of children and adolescents who did not receive important vaccinations earlier in the pandemic and are not up-to-date,” said Deputy Secretary of Health Fran Phillips. “If children missed vaccination appointments due to the pandemic, parents should contact their health care providers as soon as possible to get caught up.” 

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

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