Doctors in Pittsburgh this month were urging parents not to forget about their kids' routine vaccinations, noting that inoculations against illnesses such as chickenpox, mumps, tetanus, whooping cough and others are lagging – something they attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There are a lot of parents who hesitate to go out in public where there are a lot of people, especially sick people like a doctor's office or hospital,” Dr. Edward Ketyer told KDKA-TV.
Public health officials in New York last week reported a 16% drop in routine vaccinations so far this year, compared to the same period before the pandemic in 2019. Rates are down in Ohio, too, according to news reports.
Unsurprisingly, we're not immune to the trend. Fewer local children also have gotten shots.
Fort Wayne Community Schools typically ends the academic year with near-total compliance with routine vaccination requirements. Before the school year began last week, about 80% of the district's 30,000 students were vaccinated, The Journal Gazette's Ashley Sloboda reported.
Whether because of the pandemic or spurred by hesitancy created by people leery of quickly developed – but safe and effective – coronavirus vaccines, the routine shots should remain a priority.
Neglecting protection from diseases eradicated long ago “might pose a serious public health threat that would result in vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks, especially in schools that have reopened for in-person learning,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in a recent report.
MDwise, an Indianapolis health care nonprofit, will sponsor a livestreamed event Wednesday aimed at highlighting the importance of routine vaccinations. The Back on Track event begins at 7 p.m. and will feature Fort Wayne Urban League President and CEO Terra Brantley and Fort Wayne pediatrician Tony GiaQuinta, past president of the Indiana chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“Across Indiana, kids are behind on routine shots,” MDwise said in a statement. “In fact, 26.4% of K-12 students have not gotten all their required shots.”
Participation information is available at mdwise.org/backontrack.
A free vaccination clinic hosted by MDwise, Super Shot and the Indiana Department of Health is planned for Saturday and Sunday. Lunch, gift cards and prizes will be given away.
The online event and clinic come amid Food and Drug Administration approval Monday of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine – a move experts say could boost immunization rates and prompt businesses to require shots.
About 52% of eligible Hoosiers are fully vaccinated, state data show. The number is 53% in Allen County, though some other counties in northeast Indiana have rates as low as 24%.
“Today's action should provide reassurance that the Pfizer vaccine is safe and effective,” Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Matthew Sutter said in an email Monday. “... While the vaccines are not perfect, they are safe and effective at preventing severe disease. Vaccines reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 and also the progression to severe disease.”
Connie Heflin, Super Shot executive director, said she's hopeful the clinic this weekend can help improve rates for routine vaccinations for children.
“We've always faced vaccine hesitancy, but I would say those voices are getting louder,” she said.
Silence them by getting vaccinated.
Back on Trackvaccination clinic
9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Super Shot, 1515 Hobson Road
Noon to 3 p.m. at Super Shot
Advance registration is available, but not required, at 260-424-SHOT. Transportation is available by calling 800-356-1204.