The importance of childhood immunizations during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Published in Wellness Pediatrics Family Medicine Tag: Timothy Mulder, MD   Mary Amon, MD  

Author: Timothy Mulder, MD and Mary Amon, MD

As the school year looms closer, physicians and health care professionals are reminding parents to stay current on their children's routine immunizations.

"It's understandable that parents were concerned about taking their children into the clinic back when the pandemic was in its beginning stages," said Dr. Mary Amon, a Family Medicine physician with Carris Health in Willmar. "But missing routine immunizations can leave kids exposed to other illnesses like measles or pertussis that can be even more dangerous."

According to a recent poll of 100 physicians by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), there has been an estimated 35% decline in childhood immunizations and a 45% decline in adolescent immunizations since the outbreak of COVID-19.

"Teenagers are especially at risk," Dr. Amon said. "Often, sports physicals are the prompt that reminds parents to get their teens in for an annual exam. With some sports seasons canceled or postponed, we’re concerned that many teens will be entering school unimmunized."

Home schooling or distance learning may have given parents a false sense of security that immunizations on a recommended schedule are not necessary. "That's untrue," said Dr. Amon.

"Regardless of what school will look like this year – whether it's in-person, distance learning, or a hybrid plan – well-child visits and routine immunizations are as important as ever."

Still, there are those parents who are concerned that visiting the clinic for a routine visit might expose them or themselves to COVID-19.

"We've taken additional safety measures to help reduce the risk of COVID-19," said Stacey Zondervan, Willmar Clinic Site Manager. "We've taken these important steps, so you know it’s safe to visit our facilities and receive care when you need it. Our top priority is keeping everyone healthy and safe."

Carris Health in Willmar also offers a drive-up vaccine service for children over the age of 2 who are due for critical immunizations. Check with your doctor to see if this is an option for your child.

Family Medicine physician, Dr. Tim Mulder, visits with an 18-month old patient and her mom during a well-child visit.

Family Medicine physician, Dr. Tim Mulder adds that, "While we all look forward to the end of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to do what we can to protect our children from preventable diseases as early and safely as possible."

"If you have any questions about immunizations for your child you should speak with your physician," said Dr. Mulder. "Seeking healthcare is essential when your child is sick, but also when it comes to immunizations and well-child visits. We want to provide the best possible care for your child, not just through the pandemic, but for life."