Pediatricians urge parents to keep up with immunizations as numbers decrease due to COVID-19

Published: Jul. 30, 2020 at 7:07 PM EDT
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - With concerns of COVID-19, many families are avoiding a trip to the doctor’s office, including wellness checks and immunizations for children.

“We have seen a little improvement in the children under the age of two. The children over the age of two, there is no improvement in what their immunization rates are,” said Dr. Tom James, Chief Medical Officer of WellCare of Kentucky.

With more than two decades of experience in the medical field, James says he is disheartened by the sudden drop in child immunizations.

“I have had two of my own patients who ended up in the intensive care unit with chickenpox and measles and several patients with meningitis who had several outcomes but these are preventable,” he said.

While some parents say they shy away from vaccines because it makes their child sick, “The concern over what immunizations can do is negative has not been found in science.”

Yet out of fear of COVID-19, parents have also stayed away from doctors’ offices, a thought process James says was understandable but is no excuse.

“There is safety now in going into physician offices than there are taking your child many other places around town. Pediatricians in the family physicians who are giving vaccines went to doing telemedicine and you can’t give a shot through the computer screen.”

And with current plans for students to return to school, now is more than ever.

“I try to reassure our family this is important for new station alert for your child’s friends.”

But the bigger concern is for when students return to school.

“Kentucky still requires child immunizations as part of the education process so when schools finally open it’ll be a mad rush to get immunizations,” said James. “Recognizing a lot of the immunizations are timed in sequence and if you don’t get the immunization on time no one knows what the real immunity will be from those immunizations. If the child gets the immunization on time and helps boost the immunity through each subsequent immunization.”

That is where local pediatrician, Dr. Marjorie Haas from ARH Hazard Clinic comes in. Where in this area, some can not afford it.

“There’s some things that we know now need to be boosted that we didn’t know, because majority of kids are vaccinated they actually can protect the kids who are not,” said Haas.

“But the kids that I want to see and the kids I don’t want to miss are the kids that are due for vaccines and I want even the little ones for two months four months six months old I do not want them to get behind on their shots because that’s the case he’s going to get sick.”

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