INDIANAPOLIS — As the start of the school year closes, pediatrician offices around Central Indiana are busy. It is a normal thing to see during this time of year, but there is more urgency in 2022.
“During the COVID pandemic, they were absent from my office for two, two and a half years. Now they’re coming back to catch up,” Dr. Dorota Szczepaniak said.
The pediatrician with Riley General Pediatrics and Vice Chair of General Pediatrics at IU School of Medicine predicts her office will continue to be booked up for several more weeks as kids go back to school and need regular physicals.
Pediatrician Dr. Eric Yancy on North Meridian Street is seeing much of the same.
Yancy, who is also the Medical Director for Managed Health Services, predicts at least the next two weeks will continue to be booked solid with families trying to squeeze in last-minute appointments.
What differs this year compared to others for both pediatricians is making sure all kids are caught up on routine vaccines. The pandemic, they say and the state health department agrees, is to blame for a fall in vaccine rates.
The Indiana Department of Health notes some 10% of Hoosiers kids are behind when it comes to routine vaccines mandated for school.
Looking at state data from last school year, Kindergarten, sixth grade and twelfth grade are all seeing double digits when it comes to the percent of kids not up to date with mandated vaccines.
“Every child not vaccinated is another opportunity for that particular organism to attack that child and for them to spread it,” Yancy said.
The best advice from both pediatricians for parents needing an appointment to catch up — make it sooner, rather than later.
“We have to keep our children healthy, safe and keep classrooms safe so they can stay there,” Dr. Szczepaniak said.
Dr. Yancy added: “And many of the schools will say we’ll let you in since you have an appointment, and we work as long as we have to to try to get as many in as we can.”
The Indiana Department of Health is hosting a campaign with a focus on improving vaccine rates in kids. Click here to see a map of clinics outside of pediatrician offices around the state offering routine vaccines.
To find a list of required vaccines in Indiana for school-aged children, click here.
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