Jennifer Johnson, D.O.
Family Medicine, Prenatal Care
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Childhood vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic
There are many serious illnesses that not only make you or your child feel terrible, but also present major risks to health. Fortunately, vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective in preventing a variety of diseases and conditions. Some of these diseases may appear to pose a minimal threat, but the recent COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the wide-reaching impact of a disease that cannot be easily treated or prevented with a vaccine.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, parents are asked to be thoughtful about bringing children to public spaces, such as retail stores and clinics. However, families should try to keep their children on the recommended vaccine schedule as much as possible.
Importance of vaccines
Vaccinations are important, especially for young children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an infant receives some passive immunity from their mother after birth. However, these immunities wear off during the child’s first year with some starting as early as 2 months.
Without vaccinations, young children’s bodies often can't fight diseases. This can lead to serious complications with lifelong impacts and even death.
The CDC has a recommended schedule of immunizations for children based on when your child will get the most protection from the vaccine. In some cases, it is not as simple as catching up the next year, because your child will remain unprotected for a year or there could be other consequences. This is the same schedule recommended by The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians and many other groups.
Safety at clinics
Medical clinics are open and ready to safely administer vaccines for your child. However, traveling to the clinic may cause some uneasiness. Your family's safety is a priority for your health care provider, so that's why health care organizations have made significant changes to their spaces and processes to protect the safety of patients of all ages.
Changes could include screening at entrances, requiring everyone to wear a mask, enhanced cleaning standards and limiting the number of people in the building. These changes are made to create safe environments for in-person care to patients while protecting the safety of patients, staff and visitors.
Talk with your health care provider
Your health care provider can answer your questions and help your family determine if vaccines are needed now or can be postponed. Factors that should be considered include if your geographic area is experiencing an increase in COVID-19 cases, the age of your children, which vaccines are needed and safety measures implemented by the health care organization.
In a world of uncertainty, protecting yourself and your loved ones is of great importance. Vaccinations are at the front line of disease defense, and are one of the safest, most cost-effective preventive health measures.
Jennifer Johnson, D.O., is a Family Medicine physician in Mankato, Minnesota.