Health care providers, local health authorities, and public health partners are working diligently in response to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. During this time, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) recommends that routine vaccination, especially of infants, should continue. This ensures that our communities remain free of vaccine preventable diseases and that children are as healthy as possible. If routine vaccination is postponed, we could be faced not only with a COVID-19 pandemic but an outbreak of vaccine preventable diseases, like measles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released recommendations related to pediatric vaccination during COVID-19. Please note the websites for this information have changed since the original pediatric recommendation was released.
This guidance provides recommendations for continuing routine vaccinations for infants and children during COVID-19 in Illinois.
III. Preventative Actions for Immunization Providers
Maintaining Immunization Services
The COVID-19 pandemic is changing rapidly and continues to affect communities across the United States differently. Travel to clinics and clinic visits should occur in environments that are safe for all. It is important to share masking guidelines with parents traveling to and from clinic visits (see Cloth Face Coverings for Children During COVID-19) .
Clinics working with children1:
• Scheduling well-child visits on different days from sick patient visits.
• Ensuring clinic spaces such as waiting areas and restrooms are disinfected periodically throughout the day and at the end of each day.
• Separating patients spatially, such as by placing patients with sick visits in different areas of the clinic or another location from patients with well visits.
• Transitioning sick visits to telehealth visits.
• Collaborating with providers in the community to identify separate locations for holding well-child visits and immunization clinics.
• Drive through immunization clinics and outdoor immunization clinics can be utilized for immunization clinics.
Because of personal, practice, or community circumstances related to COVID-19, some providers may not be able to provide well child visits, including provision of immunizations, for all patients in their practice. If a practice can provide only a limited number of well child visits, healthcare providers are encouraged to prioritize newborn care and vaccination of infants and young children (through 24 months of age) when possible.
IV. Vaccines for Children (VFC) Providers
If health care facilities close or decide to discontinue vaccination, all storage units that contain Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program vaccines must have adequate storage and handling to ensure vaccine viability. Data loggers must still be in place and min/max temperatures be checked and recorded at a minimum of two days per week. Data logger temperature charts must also be submitted to the immunization program monthly. All temperature excursions must be reported and followed up on accordingly.
CDC is monitoring the situation and will continue to provide guidance at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/pediatric-hcp.html for pediatric recommendations.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has provided additional guidance on immunizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you have any questions, please contact the Illinois Immunization program at DPH.Vaccines@illinois.gov.