Child immunizations down; R.I. sees first multisystem inflammatory syndrome case

GOV. GINA M. RAIMONDO announced an alarming 52% drop in child immunizations in Rhode Island during April and May. COURTESY CAPITAL TV

PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island saw an alarming 52% reduction in immunization rates for children ages 2 to 7 years old in April and May, during the height of the spread of COVID-19 in the state, Gov. Gina M. Raimondo said on Friday.

She’s worried it could lead to another major public health crisis.

“We are behind. It’s a problem,” said the governor.

The findings, which were estimated by the newly formed statewide Pediatric Advisory Council, could be even higher than this initial drop, according to Raimondo. The council was formed a few weeks ago in order to help advise the best care for children and families during the pandemic.

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Raimondo said parents with a child under 2, or children who are 4, 11, or 16 should book immunization appointments as soon as possible and have wellness checks done.

The pediatricians in the governor’s new advisory group are warning those with 4-year-olds, “we absolutely must make sure every single one of them” has their measles, mumps and rubella shots before schools open on Aug. 31.

“At this point, the bigger risk is you not taking your children to get immunized,” said Raimondo and announced that she will receive weekly updates to monitor the progress of immunizations in the state.

In order to accommodate parents and children, Raimondo said there will be doctor’s office hours into the night and on weekends, as well as immunization clinics.

In addition, R.I. Department of Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said the state confirmed its first case of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in a child on Thursday. Dr. Alexander-Scott said the child, who she said is “school aged,” is not in intensive care and she is “doing well.” She also tested positive for COVID-19.

The health director declined to give further details due to patient privacy.

“It was not unexpected,” said Dr. Alexander-Scott of the multisystem inflammatory syndrome case, which has been seen in other states. The syndrome, which has been prevalent in children, is a rare condition that can involve the heart, lungs, eyes or gastrointestinal organs, according to the director.

It is not contagious, but many children who have this syndrome also test positive for COVID-19.

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