(ORLANDO, Florida) – A new national survey by Orlando Health finds while the vast majority of parents believe vaccines are the best way to prevent diseases, two-thirds are still nervous to take their children to their pediatrician’s office for routine wellness visits due to COVID-19. This has led to low vaccination rates, which experts warn could create a very dangerous situation when kids return to school and other public places. The survey also found that skepticism about vaccines is still a major issue, with 38 percent of parents responding that they don’t believe their children need all the vaccinations recommended by their pediatrician.
“All it will take is a case of measles entering our community and we will see loss of life that is completely and totally unnecessary,” said Alix Casler, MD, a pediatrician and chair of the Department of Pediatrics for Orlando Health Physician Associates. “It can be hard for people to grasp just how important universal vaccinations are because they’ve never seen how devastating these diseases can be. Measles and whooping cough outbreaks are a thing of the past thanks to vaccines and we’d like to keep it that way.”
Casler, like most physicians, has implemented protocols to keep patients as safe as possible during in-person visits. She is reaching out to patient families who are behind on their scheduled vaccinations to get them caught up before they go back into schools and other public places, something she says should be a priority everywhere, especially in areas hit hard by COVID-19.
“Overall childhood vaccine rates are down to potentially dangerous levels, probably because of access issues – parents being either unable or fearful of accessing medical care and preventative vaccinations for their children,” Casler said. “The only reason that we currently have herd immunity to many of these diseases is because upwards of 90 to 95 percent of children are vaccinated. Once we drop below that level, no one will be presumed safe.”
While the survey found that 74 percent of parents are much more concerned about COVID-19 than the flu, it’s important to remember to take the whole family for their annual flu shots when it becomes available. Being vaccinated will help take yet another dangerous and largely preventable virus off the table while the nation continues to battle COVID-19.