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State sees decline in vaccination rates among kids and teens during pandemic

Doctors are seeing a decline in kids and teens getting their vaccines and coming in for check-ups.
Doctors are seeing a decline in kids and teens getting their vaccines and coming in for check-ups.(CBS)
Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 6:02 PM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Some local pediatricians are sounding the alarm after seeing a drop in kids coming into their offices for check-ups and their annual vaccines.

It’s a trend health officials are seeing across the state right now because of the pandemic. Doctors say this can lead to even more problems.

The state says a decline in vaccination rates puts us at risk for another public health crisis, this time one that is completely preventable. On Friday, the state health department announced that not as many kids and teens have been getting their immunizations since the pandemic started.

In fact, they have seen a nearly 20 percent decrease from March through July compared to the same period last year. Health officials say that could lead to other health concerns, like the measles, which is highly contagious.

One local pediatrician told 11 NEWS he’s seeing that same trend and wants to reassure parents that it’s safe to bring your kids in for a check-up. Many pediatricians are taking extra steps to keep your child safe, like screening patients and decontaminating the rooms between visits.

“I would be very suspicious of the number of children that have been born like even four to six weeks before we had our shutdown that have had zero immunizations,” Dr. Sean Smith, a pediatrician said. “And that makes them particularly susceptible to some diseases that I have never even seen in my 20 year career.”

He says it's important to keep children up to date on their immunizations, even during a pandemic.

“We do know that as the number of children in a community do not get their routine immunizations for diseases that we can prevent--serious diseases that can sometimes even be fatal,” Dr. Smith said. “We do know that those disease rates can increase and that will bring along the unfortunately, sometimes an increase in fatalities for children that we deemed preventable by routine immunizations.”

Some good news, on Friday, the state announced we exceeded our goal from last year, to have at least 90 percent of kindergartners vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella. We are at 91 percent. Their new goal is to hit 95 percent by June of 2023.

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