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Immunizations have dropped during COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 11:36 PM, Apr 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-29 23:36:29-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Experts are warning about another potential health crisis as parents cancel regular doctor visits for their kids to avoid the coronavirus.

Immunizations are dropping at a dangerous rate, putting millions of children at risk for measles, whooping cough and other life-threatening illnesses.

"When I went the last time it was like me and one other person," Bailey Bennett said. "They're not seeing anybody unless you're at the end of your pregnancy."

Like most parents during this pandemic, Bennett is taking all the necessary precautions to keep her family safe.

"It was eerie. I went to our hospital," Bennett said. "I got screened because my doctor is in the hospital and they have all the doors shut except one and you get screened, they take your temperature, ask why you're there."

Bennett wants other parents to realize those precautions are in place so they don't avoid wellness checkups for their own children.

Comparing the week of February 16 as a pre-coronavirus baseline to that of April 5, PCC, a pediatric electronic health records company, compiled vaccine information from 1,000 independent pediatricians nationwide and found a significant drop of 50 percent for measles, mumps and rubella shots. Diphtheria and whooping cough were down by 42 percent and HPV vaccines were down the most at 73 percent.

"I would say that the majority of parents believe in vaccines and they want to stay up-to-date with vaccinations," Dr. John Christenson, of the IU School of Medicine, said.

Christenson said parents should know many pediatric offices have switched up how they do things to keep kids safe.

"Some of those practices have built in ways to bring those children in early in the morning, schedule appointments so none of them are in the same waiting room at the same time," Christenson said.

Knowing that doctor's offices are doing everything they can to keep their patients safe brings Bennett some comfort as she prepares to bring a baby boy into this world at the end of May.

"I'm no medical expert but I try to trust people who are more knowledgeable than me," Bennett said. "I trust the CDC for vaccinations for my daughter."