(StatePoint) Both in the United States and globally, childhood and adult vaccination rates have seen what community health experts are calling a “concerning decline” since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now is the time to ensure that you and your children are up to date on all recommended vaccines to best protect you and your family from preventable diseases.
“Vaccines are among the greatest medical breakthroughs in the history of medicine. Millions of lives have been saved and severe outcomes from various diseases have been prevented because of vaccines. At this moment, in part because of people missing routine immunizations during the COVID-19 pandemic and in part because of misinformation around vaccines, our vaccination numbers have declined, which has impacted certain populations who are more susceptible to preventable diseases. I urge you to check with your physician, schedule that preventive screening, and make sure you and your children are up to date on your vaccines,” says Jack Resneck Jr., M.D., president of the American Medical Association.
According to Dr. Resneck, here are three steps to take to get back on track:
1. Schedule routine visits with your and your child’s physicians for important preventive care, including recommended health screenings and vaccines based on age and health status. Babies and young children are especially susceptible to vaccine-preventable diseases, and right now, tens of thousands of children in the U.S. are not up to date on their vaccination against extremely contagious diseases, such as measles and whooping cough.
2. You should also make sure that you and your children are up to date on COVID-19 vaccines, Experts have cautioned about a possible surge this fall and winter. With new Omicron-specific bivalent boosters available for people 12 and older, the time for additional protection from severe outcomes from COVID-19 is now. Additionally, all children aged 6 months and up are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, and physicians highly recommend getting vaccinated as early as possible. You can get a COVID-19 vaccine and a flu vaccine at the same time if you are eligible, and the timing coincides. For more information on COVID-19 vaccines, visit: getvaccineanswers.org.
3. Understand that even countries once declared polio-free or measles-free are not risk-free, particularly for the unvaccinated. An adult in New York was recently partially paralyzed by polio, and the virus has been found in area wastewater samples, leading to the declaration of a disaster in the state to help support localities in responding to the outbreak. Because some areas and populations are under-vaccinated, the risk of contracting vaccine-preventable diseases is increased.
“Unfortunately, if we don’t get our vaccine coverage rates back to where they were before the pandemic began, we run the risk of seeing outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases that we thought we’d long ago overcome,” says Dr. Resneck. “To protect yourself and your family from current and future outbreaks, get up to date on vaccinations now.”
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