A new national survey conducted by Orlando Health shows two-thirds of parents are still nervous to take their kids to their pediatrician’s office due to coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).
“It is imperative that parents keep their routine wellness visits with their child’s pediatrician,” Alix Casler, MD, a pediatrician and chair of the Department of Pediatrics for Orlando Health Physician Associates, said. “While we are doing as many visits as possible virtually, coming in for vaccinations is important not only for protecting your child, but also to preserve herd immunity against these terrible diseases.”
The same survey finds the vast majority of parents (84%) believe vaccines are the best way to protect their children from infectious diseases, but if parents decide to wait on these vaccines an outbreak of disease previously controlled could happen quickly.
“All it will take is a case of measles entering our community and we will see loss of life that is completely and totally unnecessary,” said Casler. “It can be hard for people to grasp just how important universal vaccinations are because they’ve never seen how devastating these diseases can be. Measles and whooping cough outbreaks are a thing of the past thanks to vaccines, and we’d like to keep it that way.”
Casler has put protocols in place at her practice to keep patients as safe as possible. Some of these include seeing one family at a time, having patients wait in their cars rather than a waiting room and implementing COVID-19 screenings, putting patients and parents at ease and making them more likely to keep their appointments.
Of note, some parents (38%) felt all the recommended childhood vaccines were not needed.
“The only reason that we have herd immunity against so many diseases is because upwards of 90 to 95 percent of children are vaccinated,” Casler said. “Once we drop below that level, no one will be presumed safe.”
With the addition of COVID-19, a real emphasis should be placed on getting an influenza vaccine earlier this year. “The fact is that we have a safe and effective method to reduce the impact of influenza through a vaccine,” Casler said. “We’re hoping that people will be lining up to get their flu shots so we can at least take something off of the table in terms of very serious illness as the nation continues to battle this pandemic.”