MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Medical Association issued a stern message to parents on Wednesday, urging them to bring their kids to the doctor for routine vaccinations in light of a significant decrease in immunization levels among young kids and teenagers since COVID-19.
According to a survey conducted by the local Minnesota chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, childhood immunizations have dropped 30 to 40 percent since the start of the pandemic. That number for adolescents has dropped 40 to 50 percent, the survey showed.
“There has been a substantial, and you could call it frightening, decrease in the number of vaccines,” Minnesota Medical Association President Keith Stelter said. “We need a certain percentage in the community immunized and protected against the disease so it doesn’t spread.”
Stelter pointed to two specific vaccines as especially important: the second MMR vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella) and meningitis.
“Those are highly contagious and they have a high fatality rate,” Stelter said. “If they were to start to spread in the community, that would be additionally devastating from what we’ve already experienced with COVID.”
Although he said he understands the hesitation from some parents in medical settings during the pandemic, Stelter assures them that doctor’s offices are safe places. Screening procedures have been enhanced, and patient flows have been changed to ensure there aren’t long waits with other people around.
State officials are expected to issue guidance on schools by the end of July.
In the meantime, M Health Fairview also offered parents some tips about preparing kids for possible returns to school settings:
- Give clear handwashing and social distancing instructions to your kids
- Make sure they have more than one face-covering and know how to use them
- Explain why these are so important