The importance of timely vaccinations for children
During the peak of the pandemic, many families postponed or skipped their children’s annual doctor visit and vaccinations with their pediatrician. While many of these decisions were made to reduce the spread of the virus, delaying routine checkups, even for healthy children, can put them at risk for contracting preventable illnesses.
A Blue Cross Blue Shield analysis in late 2020 found a 26% drop in childhood vaccine doses since the pandemic began, and 40% of parents surveyed said their children missed shots because of COVID-19.
As in-person learning and other group activities are resuming, getting children caught up on all of their immunizations is one of the most important things that parents can do to protect their child’s health and other children who may not be able to get a vaccine, like the immune compromised.
Dr. Kay Kelts, D.O. Family Medicine at Rapid City Medical Center, says, “It helps protect the kid and it helps protect everyone else and gives us what we call herd immunity so that those that can not get shots are still protected with the rest of us.”
Vaccinations help prevent diseases and getting them on time is important for children especially. Kelts says a measles outbreak in 2019 is a prime example of the importance of vaccines.
Kelts says, “Now a days, unfortunately over the last decade, we’ve seen the rate of immunizations decrease as a whole and because of that certain diseases that had been eradicated – meaning they don’t exist in this country anymore, are coming back. And one of those main ones is measles.”
Kelts adds that another danger in preventive health care visits is correcting issues in children development. If physicians can’t observe a child’s behavior, any red flags can’t be addressed.
“Part of the kid visits, is making sure that they are meeting these milestones, making sure that they are progressing and growing and maturing like they should,” says Kelts.
Kelts says that preventative health care for everyone across the board is still important.
Kelts adds, “Because your health does matter even during a pandemic and if you ignore it and let it get too far off the wagon, you can’t catch back up.”
She also notes that doctors offices are safe to visit, as certain protocol is in place. And it is important to keep precautions in place, even as more people are getting the COVID-19 vaccine.