Pediatricians urging parents to keep up with children's vaccines amid COVID-19 pandemic

Pediatricians are sounding the alarm about low vaccination rates and urging parents to keep up with vaccine schedules, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most offices have precautions in place to safely complete wellness visits.

A.J. Velasco is excited to start kindergarten. His parents are concerned about COVID-19, despite precautions.

"I do think that they're going to be doing their best to keep the classrooms clean, sanitized, students wearing their masks," said Cynthia Velasco.

But unfortunately it's not just novel coronavirus parents may have to worry about, but also other infectious diseases because vaccination rates have plummeted since the pandemic started.

Experts say this could lead to other outbreaks.

"All it will take is a case of measles entering our community and we will see loss of life that is completely and totally unnecessary," said Dr. Alix Casler.

A new national survey by Orlando Health found the vast majority of parents believe vaccines are the best way to protect kids from infectious diseases, but about two-thirds are still fearful of taking kids to the pediatrician's office because of COVID-19.

Dr. Casler says like most pediatricians, she is doing everything she can to ensure safety of her patients and get them caught up on necessary vaccines.

"We don't have any crowding in the halls, there's one family at a time, no one sits in the waiting room anymore," she said.

Dr. Casler is contacting families to help them overcome obstacles to wellness checks whether it's nervousness about COVID-19, or loss of employment or insurance.

The survey also found skepticism about vaccines is also a major issue, with 38 percent of parents responding they don't believe kids need all the recommended immunizations.

"Unless you've seen the diseases that we're preventing, you cannot grasp the magnitude of benefit that comes from universal vaccination," said Dr. Casler.

Even if your child is doing virtual school this first semester, they should still be up to date on vaccines to help protect them and the community around them.

Many local pediatricians are trying to get everyone in for vaccines now, just in case they have to shut down again in the future.
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