Wisconsin kids are falling behind on school vaccinations
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -Many to-do lists have taken a back seat to the pandemic but as students have sights set on a new calendar year starting Sept. 1, pediatricians are asking parents to put their kids’ immunizations top-of-mind.
The drop-off in routine vaccination rates against childhood diseases such as the flu, tetanus, polio, measles, and whooping cough, has doctors worried what that may mean for potential outbreaks in the weeks and months ahead.
“These are illnesses that have been out of the worry for a long time, for a good reason but if we don’t keep the vaccines up they could...return,” says Dr. Dan Beardmore, SSM Health pediatrician.
In July 2022, statistics from DHS reveals Wisconsinites 5-18 years of age, are tracking 37% lower than they were pre-pandemic. For those 24 months and younger, data for July shows routine vaccinations are down 25%.
“That’s the big push we’re trying to achieve in pediatrics nationwide and globally is getting those people who have been doing a lot of virtual schooling back up-to-date on their needed vaccines to go back to school for what we hope is a full year in school,” Dr. Beardmore says. “A lot of people have missed their boosters against tetanus, or little ones missed their boosters against meningitis preventing vaccines, or measles or whooping cough, chicken pox...”
The DHS also urged parents and guardians to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19 specifically on Monday.
Officials from Wisconsin DHS said that those heading back to college classes in-person should plan on staying updated on their COVID vaccinations.
“Our mission as we approach the school year is to ensure that every student and our dedicated educators and staff can stay safe, healthy, and in school,” DHS Deputy Secretary Deb Standridge said. “A critical part of making this possible is ensuring that everyone is vaccinated against COVID-19. Even as new variants emerge, the COVID-19 vaccines continue to do their job of preventing serious illness that can lead to hospitalization and even death.
Three quarters of Wisconsin school-age children 5 to 11-years-old and 40% of 12 to 17-year-olds are not fully vaccinated against the virus, according to DHS.
Getting a child’s regular vaccinations back on track, Dr. Beardmore says, may be easier than parents think.
“We can make it happen it is very doing doable, you know some kids just missed their one time and it’s been a few years and that’s all they need...babies and toddlers who maybe missed a couple, we can usually combine them and catch them up or maybe just make another appointment or two,” Dr. Beardmore says. “Catch up is more feasible than you think it’s not that hard and we can help you do it.”
COVID vaccines are still available to Wisconsinites at no cost, DHS said.
For a list of required childhood immunizations in Wisconsin, see here.
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