Here’s why you shouldn’t skip immunizations over COVID-19 concerns
Across the country, children are not receiving routine immunizations as parents opt to stay home and skip routine pediatrician appointments. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported a decrease in the number of vaccines given compared to this time last year.
“The observed declines in vaccination coverage might leave young children and communities vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles,” the agency warns.
Dr. Julie Holland, vice president of pediatric primary care with the Chicagoland Children’s Health Alliance, shares the same concern.
“This puts everyone at risk for many diseases other than COVID-19,” she says. “As our world slowly begins to reopen, we want to emphasize that one of the most important things you can do to keep your child healthy is to bring them in for needed vaccinations.”
Dr. Holland says if vaccinations aren’t kept up to date, we face the loss of herd immunity, which protects us from disease, including those individuals too young for immunizations or with conditions that prevent immunization.
“Approximately 90% of the population needs to be immune to a certain disease to achieve herd immunity. Vaccination makes this possible. If you have widespread or herd immunity in a population and someone enters the community with a disease, it won’t spread widely. Measles, for example. All it takes is one person with measles to come into the community, and we then start to see rapid spread. There are also diseases that vaccines prevent which children can still get while waiting out the pandemic at home, such as certain types of meningitis.”
Laura Caplin, a mom of four, felt concerned when it was time for her 18-month-old son Emmett to head to the pediatrician’s for immunizations.
“I was initially concerned about taking him to the pediatrician because we had been staying home and avoiding everyone outside of our family as a result of COVID-19 for months, and the last thing I wanted to do was potentially expose any of us to someone who might be sick,” Laura says. “However, the office explained they were reserving all morning appointments for well-child check-ups, so we would not overlap with anyone coming in for a sick child visit.”
“I also felt better knowing we could check in from the parking lot and would be taken directly to the exam room. In the end, we didn’t see a single person during our visit aside from our doctor, the nurse and the receptionist, and it was one of the easiest and fastest well-baby visits I’ve ever done. Emmett was a little scared of all the people in masks at first, but he warmed up once he recognized our doctor.”
These measures that helped Laura feel confident in bringing Emmett to the pediatrician are extra steps we are taking at this time as part of our Safe Care Promise. They include:
- Virtual check-in: Using digital devices to check in provides seamless, low-contact arrivals.
- Social distancing: Our rearranged waiting areas and staggered appointment times reduce traffic and create safe spaces.
- Masking: Anyone who enters our locations wears a mask. If you don’t have one, we will gladly provide it.
Laura and her husband have been working full time jobs and home-schooling their two older children. “It’s been an intense and exhausting experience,” she says. “We’re relieved it’s summer, and we are very much hoping it will be safe for schools to resume in the fall!”
About the Author
Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is the public affairs coordinator at Advocate Children's Hospital. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.