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'Children Can Die': UPMC Children's Hospital Doctor Urges Parents To Get Kids Vaccinated After 50 Percent Drop In Visits

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Many people stopped going to the doctor since the pandemic, and that has put many kids behind on their vaccines.

The Ronald McDonald House Charities Mobile Care Unit is helping families by coming to their neighborhood with free vaccines and doctor's visits, and it's completely free for families.

Dr. Elizabeth Miller, director of population health at UPMC Children's Hospital, says they've seen over a 50 percent drop in the volume of their visits since the pandemic.

"We have the potential of a massive public health crisis on top of what is already unprecedented in terms of this global pandemic," Dr. Miller says.

With kids missing vaccinations, they're susceptible to getting preventable diseases like measles, pertussis or whooping cough.

"Children can die in the context of getting these illnesses, and that is the urgency with which we need to communicate to families. If you missed those shots ⁠— two-month, four-month, six-month, one-year vaccines ⁠— if you missed those shots, we need to see you, and we need to see you now," Dr. Miller says.

The mobile care unit treats children at no cost. They're using an outdoor tent while they reconfigure for added safety during the pandemic.

Dr. Miller calls the mobile care unit a "safety net" and wants families to follow up with visits to their pediatricians.

"We are safe. It's clean. We are doing all of the appropriate protections to ensure that our families and children are safe as they come in to get caught up on those vaccines," Dr. Miller says.

The mobile care unit focuses on kids 17 years old and younger, and they're even doing sports physicals.

The Ronald McDonald Charities Mobile Care Unit will be all over the region throughout the summer.

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