Millions of children miss routine vaccinations; health officials work to catch up

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HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) – During the pandemic, many were cautious about where they went and some were forced to stay inside. While the pandemic took away a lot of fun activities, it also spread the fear of going out for routine medical procedures.

A study published in The Lancet on Wednesday estimates at least 17-million children missed their routine vaccinations last year due to the pandemic. Health officials say it’s now time to get back on track.

Most people only left their house for essential reasons, like buying groceries or traveling for work during the pandemic. However, some other essential needs were still not met, including routine vaccinations for children.

In Huntington, the Cabell-Huntington Health Department is well aware of the situation.

We’re talking not just school-aged children, but even younger. The younger children need them too. Our goal now is, of course, to get those caught up.

Kathleen Napier, CHHD Director of Nursing

While the threat of spreading COVID-19 was the primary focus this past year, the threat of other illnesses is still a concern. Marshall Health’s pediatrician, Dr. Jennifer Gerlach M.D., says they don’t want fear to further get in the way of children’s health.

We certainly don’t want vaccination rates to lag for these vaccine-preventable illnesses. Things will come back that we’ve been able to control with vaccinations.

Dr. Jennifer Gerlach M.D., Marshall Health pediatrician

For children 12-years-old and older the COVID-19 vaccine is available and now, health officials say. As opposed to in the past, they can receive multiple vaccinations without 14 days between each immunization.

While the risk for those younger than 12-years-old being exposed to COVID-19 is still prominent, health officials are still encouraging individuals to continue routine immunizations to avoid other ailments.

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