Families have focused on staying healthy during the pandemic, and that's the right thing to do. But health experts have an important reminder for parents. COVID-19 caution shouldn't mean skipping your child's vaccines.
Vaccines help protect kids of all ages from serious diseases. Those include diseases like whooping cough and measles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends children get many of their shots by age 2. Despite that recommendation, it seems that fewer kids have been getting their shots during the coronavirus crisis.
“While COVID is certainly a concern for children, we also want to make sure they avoid other illnesses,” says Brock Phillips, MD, pediatrician with HSHS Medical Group in Chatham and Springfield. “Children under the age of 2 are especially vulnerable and should stay current with recommended vaccinations and physical exams.”
Dr. Phillips advises parents that they should feel safe bringing their children to their doctor’s office. “We carefully follow guidelines set by the CDC for cleaning, handwashing, masking, and other safety precautions. Our office is certainly a safe place for you to bring your child during a pandemic.”
Vaccines are like an ounce of prevention. They don't take long to give. And insurance usually covers them. But they could keep your child from getting certain diseases—and help keep others safe from those diseases too. Here's how:
- Vaccines protect against life-threatening illnesses. Thanks to vaccinations, some diseases that used to injure or kill kids, like polio and smallpox, have been completely or nearly eliminated in the U.S. But other serious illnesses (such as meningitis, measles and whooping cough) are still around. Vaccinating your kids protects them—safely.
- Doctors and scientists review vaccines to ensure their safety. Very few children have serious side effects. And because most childhood vaccines are 90% to 99% effective in preventing disease, the benefits outweigh any possible side effects for most kids.
- They protect others. Some diseases, like chickenpox and measles, are highly contagious. But getting your kids vaccinated greatly reduces their risk of catching these diseases—and passing them on to others. That's especially good news for vulnerable people, including newborns who haven't had all their shots yet.
- They save time and money today and tomorrow. Vaccinated kids avoid diseases that could make them miss school. They're also protected from illnesses that could lead to long-term disability.
Dr. Phillips sees patients from birth to 18 years old at HSHS Medical Group Family Health in Chatham and HSHS Medical Group Multispecialty Care in Springfield. For an appointment in Chatham, call 217-482-3333. For an appointment in Springfield, call 217-241-1295. Or visit HSHSMedicalGroup.org to schedule an appointment online.
Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services