Don’t let quarantine delay your child’s immunizations
While many parents continue to take the proper precautions to keep their families safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, it remains important to keep your children's overall health in mind as well, with their immunization schedule being a critical component.
Some parents have been hesitant to schedule in-person office visits for children during the pandemic, thinking that immunizations and well visits can wait until things calm down. Recent studies have shown that shots for measles, mumps and rubella given to children had fallen by about 40 percent compared to pre-COVID numbers.
Caring, committed pediatric providers are concerned that parents who delay their children's immunization schedules may unwittingly put them at risk for outbreaks for serious diseases like measles and mumps.
"We understand that parents have concerns about the health of their children as the COVID-19 virus continues to spread and our position as health providers is to help address your fears and provide critical and timely information," says Christina Holmes, M.D., Pediatrician with Whitewater Valley Primary Care in Connersville. "One element that we continue to stress to parents is the need to continue your child's immunization schedule for the benefit of their overall health."
Measles cases have seen a surge in recent years. According to statistics, 140,000 people around the world - mostly children and babies - died of measles in 2018, a big rise in numbers from the previous decades. When children are not vaccinated, it opens the door for diseases, even ones thought long gone, to strike.
Young children are particularly at risk for serious diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly recommends that children be vaccinated according to its prescribed schedule. This is vital for babies because they are most susceptible to illness. There are 14 serious diseases young children should be vaccinated against before they turn 2. Delaying the immunization schedule can lead to potential exposures.
Parents who are worried about bringing their children into the doctor's office during COVID-19 can be assured that pediatric providers have taken extra precautions to ensure your safety.
For example, many providers have split well and sick visits for different times of the day, so parents don't have to worry about interacting with sick individuals. Some keep patients in their cars until they are ready to be seen in order to avoid sitting in a waiting room. And other providers are able to administer immunizations from the parking lot.
Maintaining a regular immunization schedule is important because the shots must be administered at certain intervals in order to fully protect the child from a specific disease or illness. Delaying vaccines or providing immunizations off schedule may dull the effectiveness of the vaccines.
These are uncertain times, and the priority rightly should be on making sure your family stays safe and healthy. Beyond COVID-19, however, doctors want families remember there are other health concerns as well, and that is why they are stressing that families maintain their immunization schedules, especially for young children. Your community-focused pediatric provider is part of the solution, and you can reach out to them with questions or concerns you may have during the pandemic.
"This is a difficult time for all of us, especially parents who are concerned about the health and well-being of their children," Dr. Holmes says. "Maintaining a timely vaccination schedule is important in protecting children from other serious diseases, and so you should keep your well visits and immunization shots on the calendar to ensure you are taking all the right steps for your children's safety and health."