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Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli at the May 26 debriefing.
COURTESY TYGER WILLIAMS

BY JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
winters@montclairlocal.news

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to slow across the state and the state remains mostly shutdown, state officials are concerned with a decrease in the pediatric vaccination rate, calling it a serious children’s health care issue.

“While staying at home has slowed the spread of the virus it has resulted in delays and decreases in children getting the recommended vaccines,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.

According to the New Jersey Immunization Information System, New Jersey has seen a dramatic decline in the ordering and administration of vaccines in children. In March and April of 2020 compared to the same time last year, New Jersey Health Officials reported a 40 percent drop in vaccinations for children ages 2 and under and 60 percent decline in children over the age of 2. 

“The need to protect against serious childhood diseases like whooping cough doesn’t disappear during the COVID-19 public health emergency,” she said.

Persichilli is recommending that pediatricians begin alternating schedules for well-baby care visits and sick-care visits, conduct vaccine administrations curbside and prioritize well-baby care visits for children under the age of 24 months. Parents should call their pediatricians to schedule a safe well-baby care visit, she said.

Last year, 31 states in the U.S. saw 100,200 cases of measles, with 19 cases in New Jersey, she said. 

Persichilli also reported that the number of children with multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) in New Jersey is now up to 23. The children range in age from 1 to 18, most have tested positive for COVID-19 and all have been hospitalized. Fifteen children have been discharged from the hospital. There have been no deaths. The illness is similar to Kawasaki and toxic shock syndrome but is not the same, she said. 

Persichilli reminded parents to look for the symptoms and to seek immediate medical attention for children with any of the symptoms. Most children who have been diagnosed with MIS-C have fever lasting several days, along with other symptoms:

  • Irritability or sluggishness;
  • Abdominal pain without another explanation;
  • Diarrhea;
  • Vomiting;
  • Rash;
  • Red or pink eyes (conjunctivitis);
  • Enlarged lymph node (or “gland”) on one side of the neck;
  • Red, cracked lips or red tongue that looks like a strawberry; and
  • Swollen hands and feet, which might also be red.

TODAY’S NUMBERS

Today, May 26, New Jersey officials reported 703 new cases of COVID-19 and 54 deaths, down from the 1,050 new cases and 52 deaths reported on Sunday. State totals are now at 155,764 positives and 11,191 deaths. Numbers could be distorted due to weekend reporting, said Gov. Phil Murphy. The positivity rate based on tests conducted May 21 is now down to 5 percent.

Hospitalizations continued their decline, with 2,723 people in the hospital as of Monday night, which is 1,500 fewer compared to two weeks ago. Last night, 786 patients were in intensive care, of which 578 were on ventilators, down 450 and 350, respectively from two weeks ago.

Last night, 134 new patients entered the hospital and 131 were discharged. 

Tuesday morning, Essex County officials reported 33 new positive cases down from the 54 reported on Sunday.The total in Essex County is now at 17,279. Officials also reported eight new deaths. down from the 11 reported on Sunday, bringing the Essex County total to 1,608.

On Monday night, May 25, Montclair Health Department officials reported the confirmed number of COVID-19 cases in Montclair had increased from 408 to 409; the number of individuals who did not survive the illness remains at 48.

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