Much of the focus over the past year has been on COVID-19, but as kids head back to school, there are concerns that a drop in immunization rates could result in a rise in preventable diseases.
August is National Immunization Awareness Month, a time when many health care professionals seek to remind parents of the importance of immunizations as the best way to prevent diseases.
“These are tried and true methods to prevent disease,” said Dr. John Epling, a professor of Family and Community Medicine at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine in Roanoke.
With many offices closed during the pandemic and many people putting off routine checkups, immunization rates have dropped by as much as 15% among children in some parts of Virginia.
“We don’t want outbreaks of the vaccine preventable diseases to complicate the already complicated picture of the pandemic,” Epling said.
According to Epling, the goal is to remind parents to follow up with their child’s doctor or pediatrician as they prepare to return to the classroom.
“It’s an opportune time to really emphasize immunizations,” he said.