SANTA CLARA - As a new school year is set to begin soon, the California Department of Public Health (CA DPH) is reminding families to make sure their kids are up to date with their routine vaccinations.
The CA DPH isn't referring to the COVID-19 vaccine. But rather, the routine vaccinations that have been required for kids to go to school for years, such as DTaP, Tdap, MMR, Hep B, Polio, and Varicella.
More than one in eight children are not up to date with routine vaccinations, according to new figures from the CA DPH.
"We need to make sure we get our numbers back up so kids can be safe," said Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, Professor of Global Health and Infectious Diseases at Stanford University's School of Medicine, who is also a Pediatric Infectious Disease Epidemiologist. "These vaccines are incredibly effective and safe for our kids."
She says some families fell behind due to missing or delaying their vaccines during the pandemic. However, there are others who have decided to not vaccinate their kids.
"We are worried about in certain parts of the country and certain pockets of California where people have just lumped all of the vaccines and all the interventions with COVID together with, 'I don't want anything, nobody can tell me what to do,'" she said. "That's a real concern."
Maldonado says at one in eight kids needing to get caught up on their routine vaccinations, the rate is just a bit below the norm. However, it's important to get it back up to normal, she says.
"I think we're going to get back up to normal numbers again, but it's going to take a little more work for us to really talk to families, make sure providers can catch up with the kids who didn't get their vaccines during the pandemic," she said.
Her primary concern, if more kids fall behind rather than get caught up?
"That we could go back to a time when children are getting sick, hospitalized, and even dying from diseases that we thought were gone from the United States," she said.
"We have really made a huge difference in the last several decades. I would really hate to see this pandemic impact our ability to keep children safe and healthy. It's really striking."
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