Health officials: immunization, vaccination still important amidst pandemic

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FILE – This Jan. 23, 2020 file photo shows a patient receiving a flu vaccination in Mesquite, Texas. On Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the vaccine has been more than 50% effective in preventing flu illness severe enough to send a child to the doctor’s office. Health experts consider that pretty good. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Local health officials are worried so many people are thinking about the Coronavirus, that they’re forgetting about more common immunizations for their children. While a vaccine for COVID-19 is still months away — vaccines for mumps, measles and rubella are available.

“Vaccines are safe, vaccines are effective and vaccines save lives.”

DR. LISA COSTELLO, MD – PRESIDENT OF WV FOR AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS.

Vaccines for the most common childhood illnesses are readily available. But health officials are worried that “stay at home” orders and closed schools have combined with fears of catching COVID-19 to push those needed immunizations to the back of parents’ minds.

Costello adds, “We know that immunizations are one of the most cost-effective, successful public health interventions, ever introduced.”

Vaccines provide immunity to infants and young children so that they are protected from as many as 14 diseases such as whooping cough, measles, polio, mumps, tetanus and more. Experts say they are the reason pandemics are so infrequent.

Costello said, “We’ve seen that over time where we’ve seen the number of these diseases that used to be very prevalent in our society decrease. The diseases are still there we’re just good at preventing them, because of vaccination.”

Right now, social distancing is one of the key ways to stop the spread of the novel Coronavirus — but once those restrictions ease, the need for childhood immunizations increases.

Elaine Darling, with The Center for Rural Health Development says, “Once those restrictions are lifted and people begin traveling between states and internationally, we’ll see diseases and not just COVID-19 begin to spread again. So this can put young children at risk if they’re not vaccinated.”

So, public health officials are putting the word out — call your family pediatrician or local clinic — and get your child’s immunizations up to date.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends following Vaccinations for Infants and Children (birth through 6 years) Parent-Friendly Version.

If you have questions about the childhood immunization schedule or what steps your child’s clinic is
taking to protect children and families when they visit, call your child’s healthcare provider.

Health insurance plans cover childhood vaccines and the Vaccines for Children program provides vaccines for children 18 years and younger who are uninsured, under insured, Medicaid-eligible, American Indian or Alaska Native.

Courtesy: CDC

For help finding a local healthcare provider who participates in the
VFC program, contact a local health department. For more information about childhood vaccines, please visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents.

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