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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused community health centers to experience a significant decline in the number of well-child visits and childhood immunization rates. In an attempt to decrease the risk for additional communicable disease outbreaks in the community and improve childhood immunization measures, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) coordinated the “Catch-Up to Get Ahead” initiative in August 2020, in support of National Immunization Awareness Month. Tips to improve access to immunizations include the following:
Extending regular health center hours to include nights and/or weekends, and specifically dedicating this extension to the administration of vaccines.
Conducting outreach activities to inform parents about the COVID-19 precautions in place at the health center, to alleviate any anxiety about “in-person” visits.
Utilizing social media to deliver messages and graphics from the Catch-Up to Get Ahead Toolkit to help spread awareness about the importance of “catching-up” on childhood immunizations.
Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided a collection of federal resources to assist health centers with improving immunization rates. To access interim guidance for immunization services during COVID-19 and get back on track, health centers can visit Interim Vaccine Guidance.