The U.S. government said on Wednesday pharmacists would be allowed to administer routine vaccines to children, calling a drop in immunization from lockdowns aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus a “public health threat.”
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the plan on Wednesday, as children across the country return to daycare, schools and colleges.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a report in May, documented a drop in child vaccination rates since lockdowns were imposed, raising concern about outbreaks of other diseases such as measles.
“This decrease in childhood vaccination rates is a public health threat and a collateral harm caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” HHS said in a statement.
The United States has more than 5.5 million cases of confirmed coronavirus infections, the highest in the world, according to a Reuters tally.
The amendment under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act allows pharmacists to order and administer vaccines to children aged three to 18 years. (Reporting by Dania Nadeem in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernadette Baum)