CHKD doctors seeing decrease in child immunizations during pandemic


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Doctors across the country, including here in Hampton Roads, are seeing a drop in the number of children getting vaccinations during the current stay-at-home order. 

This is National Infant Immunization Week and Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters (CHKD) pediatrician, Dr. Douglas Mitchell, worries about what could happen if we drop that herd immunity. 

He told they are seeing about half of the number of office visits, in general. 

Immunizations have not fallen off to that degree, but Dr. Mitchell said, “We know we are delivering fewer vaccines than we were and so we want to keep the number of vaccines up.”   

Governor Ralph Northam addressed the concern during his coronavirus update Monday afternoon.

“Vaccinations are a a critical protection to children and communities. We don’t want to see an outbreak of a preventable disease such as measles on top of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Gov. Ralph Northam

Measles outbreaks were reported in several spots across the country last year and Dr. Mitchell warns it is very easy for it to come back. His message to parents is that pediatrician offices are open and safe. “So, we’re all wearing masks, hand hygiene has never been higher.”

Many offices are separating sick and well children by scheduling those visits in separate office locations or by having well visits in the morning, after overnight cleaning, and then seeing sick children in the afternoon.

“Come in for those well child checks, get those immunizations, so we can keep our population protected,” Dr. Mitchell advises.

He and the governor recognized the stay-at-home order may cause some confusion over this, but Gov. Northam said the order should not prevent you from keeping up with immunizations.  “It’s essential to vaccinate young children on time to provide immunity before children may be exposed to life-threatening diseases.” 

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