INDIANAPOLIS — With back to school and the flu season around the corner, the World Health Organization and the CDC are warning of an alarming decline in the number of children receiving routine vaccinations due to COVID-19.
According to health experts, many families are not going for their annual well-visits out of fear of getting the virus. Even though Riley Children’s Hospital has seen a slight increase in visits lately, officials said it’s still below normal.
Since the start of the pandemic, well-visits for kids has dropped 50 percent across the country, according to the Center of Infectious Diseases.
Health experts said even a slight drop in immunization levels can have a large ripple effect for diseases like measles, which relies heavily on the vast majority of people being vaccinated.
Dr. Chaniece Wallace at Riley Children’s Hospital said they are developing quick and efficient ways for families to do appointments. Some clinics are offering drive-thru appointments for vaccinations and others are shortening appointment times by doing majority of the appointment virtually.
“With winter and fall coming, you fear things such as measles making a comeback. You fear flu overwhelming the health care system in addition to COVID, and Meningitis, which we don’t see much of now because our vaccination rates have been wonderful,” said Dr. Wallace.
One of the biggest is concerns is flu season because health experts don’t yet know the impact if someone contracts both influenza and COVID-19 at the same time.
Right now there is no vaccine for COVID-19, and this year’s flu vaccine has not be released.
“We are encouraging our families and everyone to get vaccinated this year against flu to prevent your family from getting ill but also thinking about other infections, if you have a flu infection it makes you more at risk for other things such as pneumonia and other forms of illnesses,” Dr. Wallace said.
With the usual end-of-summer rush for pediatric appointments, Dr. Wallace suggested making an appointment sooner than later for your child, especially before school starts.
Many physicians are offering different options for families, so it is recommended you call in advance and ask.