Pediatrician encourages families to catch up on vaccines during National Infant Immunization Week

Published: Apr. 25, 2022 at 6:06 PM EDT
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - The COVID-19 pandemic forced many health care facilities to delay certain medical procedures in order to treat make those battling Coronavirus a priority.

This includes agencies pausing early childhood immunization programs.

According to Dr. Andrea Lauffer, a pediatric hospitalist with Marshall Pediatrics, the organization did not halt its program, but she noticed a change during the height of the pandemic.

“We did see a drop-off of patients,” she recalled.

“I think that families were scared of coming to clinics just due to the pandemic and what was going on around.”

She said her colleagues shared concerns about the children missing the inoculations.

“They’ve always been a top priority for pediatricians,” she said.

“We became very concerned with the onset of the pandemic and during the pandemic that a lot of patients weren’t showing up to offices for routine childhood immunizations.”

Getting parents back on track with their child’s vaccines is the goal of this year’s National Infant Immunization Week.

We don’t want to have another issue in regard to public health and a patient’s personal health that can put them in danger.

“If they are behind, no need to fear. The vaccines still will be effective and we can get kids caught up on their immunizations if they’re not caught up.”

According to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, there are 14 diseases that children under the age of two can be protected from with a vaccine including mumps, measles and Hepatitis A and B.

“There’s many of these diseases we vaccinate against that personally I’ve never seen in my career and hopefully never will,” Lauffer said.

“We want to keep this diseases from being acquired by these children.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer a schedule to get kids caught up on their shots based on their age. Until an infant can get their inoculations, Lauffer recommends other family members checking up on their own vaccine status.

“We are seeing a lot of influenza cases in our community, COVID cases in the community,” she said.

“I just encourage those eligible to get those vaccines then get those vaccines and that’s the best way to protect your baby as well.”

Lauffer recommended being up to date on whooping cough vaccinations if you plan on interacting with a newborn.

Even if a child stayed healthy in spite of a delay in getting the shots to not risk delaying them any further.

We just don’t know what the future holds,” she said.

“These are deadly illnesses these diseases can kill children and that is absolutely devastating so it is not worth taking that risk and not immunizing your child.”

Click here for information on West Virginia’s child immunization programming, here for Ohio and here for Kentucky.

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