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New Concern: Dramatic drop in childhood immunizations

HOUSTON – A new problem is cropping up in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak. Pediatricians say there is a dramatic drop in child immunizations as parents avoid taking children to the doctor.

“It seems quite uniform across the city and people that I’ve discussed with other agencies,” said Dr. Vian Nguyen, chief medical officer at Legacy Health. “It’s a good 50 to 60% drop in the number of visits we are seeing in our well children.”

Legacy Community Health predicts it could get worse. Annual checkups for children over 3 years old are projected to drop nearly 94% from pre-COVID rates.

“If they are not getting their vaccines for preventable diseases such as Rubella, Mumps, Whopping cough, then where does that leave us in 6-12 months when these vaccines have not been given,” Dr. Nguyen said. “We are anticipating that this would lead to an increase and surge to these preventable diseases as we battle unknown diseases.”

If you are off schedule, that is OK. Health officials said the sooner you catch up, the better.

“If you have a child, you missed last month for their two-month vaccines - come on in, we will catch you up,” Dr. Nguyen explains. “Less than two years old, you have a lot of vaccines, so definitely we are trying to focus on our younger population there.”

Doctor’s offices are working to make sure sick kids are separated from families who come in for well-child visits. For vaccines, they are doing more Televisits and even treating some children from their vehicles.