Parents are understandably nervous about taking their children and teens to their doctors’ offices right now, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, children in Oregon are falling behind on their childhood vaccinations, according to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA).
August is National Immunization Awareness Month and the OHA wants to work with families to ensure this pandemic is not followed by an increase in cases of vaccine-preventable diseases or a preventable outbreak.
“How students attend school is changing because of COVID-19,” OHA school immunization coordinator Stacy de Assis Matthews said. “We want to make sure students are fully vaccinated, so they are protected in whatever form their school looks like: in a classroom, in a small group cohort, or online at home with their family.”
Families have the power to protect their children against serious, potentially life-threatening diseases. Parents should talk to their child’s doctor or nurse about whether they have missed any routine vaccines, according to the OHA.
Before rescheduling any upcoming childhood vaccination or well visit appointments, parents are urged to call the child’s health care provider to find out if the appointment can remain as scheduled and what precautions are in place to keep everyone safe from COVID-19.
Many health care providers’ offices are taking special precautions, such as ensuring children who are well are kept separate from sick children.
Many providers are limiting the number of people who can go with a child to their appointment and are taking temperatures of all family members before allowing them into the building. Some providers are providing drive-up vaccine programs.
With so many people out of work and without health insurance, it’s important to know you can still keep your child safe. The Vaccines for Children (VFC) program offers free vaccines to families who cannot afford to pay for their children’s vaccines.