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Serving the Susquehanna Region
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Keep Your Immunizations Up to Date

by Mark Odorizzi, DO

A May 2020 report from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found a troubling drop in routine childhood vaccinations because families were following public health warnings associated with the pandemic and staying at home. While limiting your family’s public exposure was appropriate early in the pandemic, regulations in our region have loosened and it’s time that you consider following up on those missed appointments, and more importantly those missed vaccinations.

Routine Vaccinations During a Pandemic

The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend every child continues to receive routine vaccinations during the COVID-19 outbreak. This guidance applies to children from infant up through their teenage years. Immunizations are intended to protect your child when they are not strong enough to fight life-threatening diseases. Your child isn’t born with an immune system that can protect them from most diseases, and as they grow, their chances of exposure to preventable illnesses increases. By following a vaccination schedule, you can protect your child and others in the community from serious illness, possibly even death.

Vaccinations are most often given at a child’s well-visit. If your child is due for a well-child visit, call your provider’s office. Ask about ways they safely offer well-child visits during this time. These visits may look and feel a little different from what you’re used to so it’s important to prepare for your visit and be sure to let your child know what to expect as well. Many medical offices are taking extra steps to make sure that well visits can happen safely during the COVID-19 outbreak, including:

  • Scheduling sick visits and well-child visits during different times of the day.
  • Asking patients to remain outside until it’s time for their appointment to reduce the number of people in waiting rooms.
  • Offering sick visits and well-child visits in different locations.
  • Requiring patients to wear masks and follow other preventative measures such as pre-appointment screening, limited visitation, and social distancing.
  • Offering telehealth visits when an in-person visit is not necessary.

Over the last few months, we’ve learned a lot about the virus, and we continue to learn more every day. Safety is the focus of all providers during these challenging times and we’re taking all measures we can to keep you safe. 

The Importance of Staying on Schedule

Unfortunately, misinformation about vaccines make some parents decide not to immunize their children. It is important to get your information from a trusted source, so you do not put your children or others at risk. To see the complete list of vaccinations with recommended timing, visit CDC.gov/vaccines. The website also has scientific information on the safety of vaccinations. 

Following the recommended vaccination schedule will protect your child from 14 preventable diseases including the likes of chickenpox, measles, meningitis, and polio.
When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk and can spread diseases to others in their family and community, including babies who are too young to be fully protected. This is an added public health concern as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

What Should You Do?

A lot of research went into creating the immunization schedule providers use and it has been proven safe by countless studies and research. If you can’t afford to vaccinate your child, the CDC offers a program which offers free vaccines. Call toll free at 800-232-4636 to find out where you can get free vaccinations for your child if you qualify.

If you are anxious or hesitant about an upcoming appointment, please speak to your provider and share your feelings with them. They can answer any questions you may have and make accommodations to ensure your safety. We’re all going through this together and while we may not know what the future holds, we want you to know we’re here for you when you need us.

Learn more about pediatric care at UPMC in the Susquehanna region.