This article appeared in WILX. Read more here.
It’s that time of year again. The sun is setting much earlier and the count down to school has started. However, doctors are warning parents to make sure their children are up to date on routine vaccinations.
The vaccination rate for toddlers has decreased by 7% since the pandemic started. That might now seem like much, but it puts us at 68% vaccinated when we were at 75% vaccinated two years ago. This puts children at risk of catching preventable diseases like H-Flu, Chicken Pox, Rubella, Whooping Cough and Polio.
With kids heading back to school in just a few weeks, doctors said we need to reverse this trend before preventable diseases make a come back.
Dr. Glenn Dregansky of Jackson is one of those doctors. He’s been working in family medicine for nearly four decades. Dregansky, and other medical experts, link the drop in vaccinations to the pandemic. The pandemic put a halt to many routine checkups and parents haven’t got back on track.
Others link the drop to the spread of misinformation. However, Dregansky linked the decrease to another possibility.
“People aren’t afraid of the vaccine-preventable illnesses because we haven’t had huge outbreaks in decades,” Dregansky said.
He remembers the days when his parents wouldn’t let him swim in public schools for fear of Polio. He remembers the days when children got sick often and didn’t make it.
“In my training, we about every other month lost a baby or a young child to bacterial meningitis,” said Dregansky. “That’s utterly preventable now because the vaccines are so efficient so in some ways we’re victims of how good we’ve vetted this.”
This is far less common, but sometimes it still happens. It happened to Chelsea Bell’s niece.
“I’ve been in that place before. With a niece who was not able to be vaccinated against H-flu because she was too young and became very sick,” Bell recalled. “That’s really what started my drive for vaccinations in children.”
Bell, a mother of five children, works as an infectious disease nurse. She said she’s worried about what will happen if less people vaccinate their children. Her kids are all vaccinated, but she knows that’s not the only important thing to keep others safe.
“I’m concerned for their friends not being vaccinated and how that could possibly have done detrimental experiences contracting something,” said Bell.
Dregansky said the best thing to do is to make sure you and your children are up to date on routine vaccinations.