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Kids Have Missed 9 Million Vaccine Doses In 2020

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Millions of children missed their routine immunizations this year.

"We have vaccine-preventable diseases under control in this country, and we hate to lose that control in the middle of a pandemic," says Allegheny Health Network Pediatric Alliance pediatrician Dr. Joe Aracri.

Kids have missed nine million vaccine doses in 2020.

"A lot of this is driven by fear and inability to get to the pediatrician. In earlier phases of the pandemic, when we were locked down, we were only seeing kids under the age of 2 for their immunizations. So now there's a backlog of checkups," Dr. Aracri said.

Compared to 2019, vaccinations dropped by 26 percent for measles and 16 percent for polio, according to statistics from Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

"It's really concerning when you hear numbers like that because once you start dropping below 70 to 80 percent of the population that's appropriately vaccinated, then you'll lose your herd immunity. And these viruses can run wild," Dr. Aracri said.

That's when people who are not immunized can end up getting sick.

"When we vaccinate a child, we are not only protecting that child, but we're also protecting the community from the spread of that virus. So the more people that are immunized, the less likely that virus will spread within a community," Dr. Aracri says.

He urges parents to bring their children in for their routine vaccines.

"We have been making our offices very safe. We have thinned out our schedules. We are respecting social distancing. We are masking, we are wearing visors, we are washing our hands," Dr. Aracri said.

Dr. Aracri has worries beyond immunizations, including growth, development and social issues — things that can be missed if routine checkups get skipped.

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