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Adventist Health providers remind parents: Don’t delay routine vaccinations even during COVID-19


While your thoughts may be focused on COVID-19, it is important to remember that protecting your child from other infectious diseases is more important than ever. Childhood vaccinations remain one of the best ways to protect them against diseases such as measles, pertussis and more. Maintaining your routine baby and childhood visits to receive vaccines prevents illness, lasting health problems and even death.

Across the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting a decline in vaccination rates as some families are choosing to forgo or delay their children’s routine pediatric well-visits as well as vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, in some states, the rate of immunization in children five months and younger fell to less than 50 percent between March and May.

While the concerns around contracting the virus and taking precautions are understandable, pediatricians at Adventist Health are reminding the community about the dangerous public health implications of this trend.

“I understand that COVID-19 can be scary, however the illnesses prevented by routine vaccinations are a greater threat to your baby or child. The regularly scheduled vaccines for your child are effective to prevent illnesses, such as measles or pertussis,” says Kirsten Quitno Juliet, MD, pediatrician. “That’s why it’s so important to stay up-to-date with your child’s immunizations.”

“Delaying routine care causes children to miss important health screenings and puts our community at risk for vaccine-preventable disease. While scientists are working hard to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, let us do our part by making sure our children and community are as healthy and protected as possible,” adds Erica Baumker, pediatric nurse practitioner.

Experts explain that vaccines are given based on a schedule for a reason and that it is important not to delay vaccinations. You wouldn’t wait until you’re already driving down the road to put your baby in a car seat. You buckle him in every time, long before there is any chance he could be in a crash. Vaccines work the same way—your baby needs them long before he is exposed to a disease. If you wait until he’s exposed to the disease or when there’s an outbreak, they may not be enough time for the vaccine to work.

Faith Simon, family nurse practitioner at Adventist Health Mendocino Coast clinic in Fort Bragg says she’s concerned about diseases that have been eradicated coming back and why that will be devastating for our community. “Communicable diseases know no boundaries. I have seen this with my own eyes as a nurse practitioner. In East Africa, I worked in wards of patients sick and dying from measles, newborns paralyzed by neonatal tetany. Closer to home I saw tuberculosis, running rampant in the poverty of southern West Virginia’s counties. In Ohio, babies in the ER with epiglottitis-a life threatening swelling of the throat-a condition now rarely seen as a result of immunization. I remember as a child looking at other children walking with braces and crutches, the result of polio infection. And have watched in dread reports of polio coming back. And now the deadly Covid-19 everywhere. Vaccines can and do prevent all these. There is no excuse for endangering your children, loved ones, your neighbors. Social solidarity and responsibility to one another has never been more important. Let’s not go backwards. Vaccinations save lives."

Although your child may not be heading off to a traditional classroom this fall, keeping current with school district required immunizations will ensure that they are ready to head back to school when appropriate. Experts are also concerned about the flu season which is right around the corner. Pediatricians are recommending that children 6 months and older receive a flu vaccine no later than the end of October. The sooner your child gets the vaccine, the sooner they are protected especially if your child is young and hasn’t had it before.

While parents may have concerns around taking their children to the doctor’s office at this time, experts say there’s a bigger risk if children don’t get recommended vaccines on time. Adventist Health facilities including clinics have implemented safety precautions to protect staff and the community including requiring masks, social distancing where possible, limiting visitors and enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of exam rooms and waiting areas.

“As health care providers, pediatricians are going to be much more careful than the general public about keeping their patients safe, and their staff safe,” Claudia Ceja, Lead LVN at Adventist Health’s Ukiah Pediatric Clinic. “If you are concerned, please call the office. We are happy to explain the precautions that are in place prior to you coming to an appointment.”

Adventist Health medical offices are open and welcoming patients. Same day appointments may also be accommodated. To make an appointment, call 707.463.7459 in Ukiah, Willits at 707.459.6115 in Willits and 707-964-0259 in Fort Bragg.