By Nadia Ramlagan
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A new report by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, urged parents to get their children caught up on missed doctor visits, and in some cases, vaccinations, to protect themselves and their communities before they return to school.
Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported orders for all non-influenza childhood vaccines had decreased by around 11 million doses, a direct result of fewer pediatric visits.
Kinika Young, senior director of health policy and advocacy for the Tennessee Justice Center, said the consequences for communities could be dire.
“We would want parents to not let this COVID-19 outbreak cause another outbreak,” Young urged. “And the best way to do that is to keep up with vaccinations.”
The report showed visits to providers’ offices fell by 58% for all age groups in March of last year, and visits for toddlers dropped 75%, the largest decline by any age group.
Some parents don’t immunize children for religious reasons. Others worry about potential health risks of some vaccines, although those are reported to be extremely rare.
Young also pointed out there are some children who can’t receive vaccinations for health reasons.
“Parents should know that there are a few children in your community that are going to school with your child or on sports teams, etc., who have compromised immune systems and may not be able to get vaccinated,” Young explained.
Young added programs like Tenncare and CoverKids fully cover the cost of childhood immunizations.
“And they are absolutely free if you are enrolled in those programs,” Young emphasized. “So, definitely take advantage of it and don’t let cost be a barrier.”
For more information on recommended childhood immunizations, parents can visit the Tennessee Department of Health website.