LOUISVILLE, Ky. (LEX 18) — COVID-19 is still at the front of our minds, but as kids are heading back to school, sports, and other activities, pediatricians don't want parents to lose focus on other diseases. When the virus was declared a pandemic, things came to a standstill, including going to the doctor's office. Which meant kids weren't getting the healthcare they needed.
"We saw a 50 percent reduction in children getting immunized starting immediately after March 13th when the governor declared it a state of emergency," said Dr. Tom James, Chief Medical Officer at WellCare Of Kentucky.
Dr. James says many families were afraid of bringing kids to doctor's offices and risk possibly getting exposed to the virus. Now more things have reopened, but Dr. James says the state hasn't seen a sharp increase in children getting immunizations again.
"There is some improvement from where it was in late April, but it's nowhere near where it should be to help protect children," he said.
Dr. James says if children don't get caught up on immunizations soon, we could see a rise in diseases we've been able to control in the past.
"We're going to have a whole generation of children at real risk of developing measles, meningitis, chickenpox, and a host of other diseases," he said. "I'm old enough as a pediatrician to have seen a lot of these diseases in the past before immunization. Trust me; you don't want that happening to your child."
Since Kentucky schools require immunizations, Dr. James suggests taking care of this as soon as possible. Even though some districts are starting the year virtually, they have plans to bring students back to classrooms eventually.