By Steven Bonifazi
Pediatricians are urging parents to make sure their children get vaccinated as children across the nation have been missing routine visits as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
“It is really important to follow the immunization schedule because we need to maintain a herd immunity,” said Dr. Heather Isaacson, a pediatrician at UCHealth Longmont Clinic. “Herd immunity is a certain level of immunity in the community where enough people are immunized against a particular virus or bacteria and once the levels drop too low, in terms of the immunization rate, then we are at risk for outbreaks,” said Heather.
Children across the nation have been missing routine immunizations and well-child visits. Children that fail to attend regular vaccinations and visits throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to outbreaks of preventable diseases as well as allow other problems to go undetected.
“It can be quite disruptive missing an immunization,” said Alice Antonescu, MD, a pediatrician with Banner Health Clinic in Fort Collins.
The CDC recently released a study that found a decline for children aged five months in up-to-date status for all recommended vaccines from approximately two-thirds of children from 2016 to 2019 to less than half in May 2020.
The American Association of Pediatrics supports the continued care for children during the COVID- 19 pandemic and has recently shared recommendations for managing visits safely and effectively.
“Kids are still kids and life still needs to go on but parents should make sure children are up to date on immunizations,” said Alice.
Pediatricians fear that the drop in visits could lead to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, pertussis, meningitis, polio, and Hepatitis A. Therefore, it is very important that children are going in for their well-child visits.
“We really want to get the kids in the office, get these vaccines administered, and make sure that we don’t have another pandemic on our hands,” Heather said.
Currently, there is no vaccine for COVID-19, but immunizations for many other serious and potentially deadly diseases prevent children from getting sick. These visits also provide guidance for parents and adolescents, who can check in on their own risks and behaviors.
“These screenings are even more important right now since children have not been in school,” Heather said. “Our kids are suffering the same stressors that adults are feeling, and they need to continue their regular health care to optimize their physical and mental health,” she said.
For more information regarding where to schedule an appointment with a UCHealth pediatrician or primary care physician for an annual checkup or immunizations, visit uchealth.org.