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There’s no time like the present

When it comes to childhood vaccinations, there’s no time like the present. Wise words from Katie Scheelar, Moda Health’s Senior Clinical Program Manager, Clinical Pharmacy. Scheelar, who is also a mother of two, says it’s important to stay on top of your child’s immunization schedule, even during a pandemic.

Decreased visits to the doctor due to the Oregon’s stay-at-home orders, combined with fears of taking children out in public, have created additional challenges for parents trying to keep up with child’s immunization schedule. However, it is essential to keep up with routine vaccinations during this time, a recommendation backed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and American Academy of Pediatrics.

“It can be confusing when you have to figure out which vaccinations your kids have had, and when,” she said. “With COVID-19, it can be even more challenging for parents.”

While children’s pediatric offices have adopted strict protocols with employees and patients to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID and other diseases, Katie says pediatricians continue to schedule well-child visits and vaccinations, as they are essential services.

“There’s certainly a focus for pediatric offices to close any gaps that have occurred due to COVID,” she said. “To my knowledge, they are staying open and doing their part in taking necessary precautions to avoid cross-contamination risk in provider offices.”

Keeping your child and others healthy
Parents know that several childhood and adolescent vaccinations recommended by the CDC are given in a series over time. Katie says staying on schedule with your child’s immunization schedule is critical to keeping them and others healthy in a pandemic.

“When our body is exposed to a virus, your immune system works to fight the virus,” she said. “If a person is battling COVID and contracts another infection, such as the flu, they may experience worse symptoms as they struggle to rid their body of the coinfection. This is why protecting yourself and your child against other diseases in a time of COVID decreases the risk exposure to multiple viruses at once.”

Learning from history
With a recent surge of COVID-19 cases in Oregon, Katie said it is especially important not to become complacent in the fight against an invisible enemy. She says history can provide a valuable lesson for parents making sure they stay on track with their child’s immunizations.

“It helps me to think about historical epidemics; the outbreaks we didn’t live through like polio and measles for which we have vaccines available today,” she said. “There’s a danger in not visiting your pediatrician to get your child’s wellness vaccines in alignment with CDC recommendations. Staying on schedule is important for keeping your child healthy, and it helps build a herd immunity. If we don’t, we could start to see new cases or outbreaks of diseases that have been eradicated.”

5 tips to stay on schedule
If you don’t feel like you are getting the support you need, Katie shared a few tips on how to stay on track with your child’s vaccines:

  1. Talk to your doctor early: Because childhood vaccinations start at the hospital, make it a priority to talk to your doctor about your child’s immunization schedule.
  2. Find out if your child is up to date: Call your child’s provider office and ask if your child has missed any vaccines.
  3. Schedule your next well-child visit: Use your child’s birthday as a reminder to schedule annual well-baby checkups.
  4. Organize your child’s immunization records: Write down your child’s vaccinations, along with dates, to share with your child’s pediatrician. Records of your child’s immunizations are also required for things like school registration.
  5. Follow the CDC’s childhood vaccination recommendations: Understanding what childhood vaccines are recommended by the CDC is important for staying on schedule. To learn more, view the CDC’s recommended child and adolescent immunization schedule for ages 0 to 18 here. The CDC also provide guidance on how to “catch up” on vaccinations should a person fall behind.

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