SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - During the coronavirus pandemic, the number of childhood vaccinations has dropped across the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control
Health professionals here say that they are seeing the same trend happening in the ArkLaTex.
According to Willis Knighton’s Dr. Joseph Bocchini Jr., a pediatric infectious disease specialist, vaccine rates were down for all age groups.
"It waded down far enough to where in some states, up to forty percent of children who are under 24 months of age are behind on their immunizations," he said.
This could leave children vulnerable to preventable disease and in the worst-case scenario — it could lead to an outbreak.
“We don’t have a vaccine for coronavirus,” he added. “But we do have vaccines for all these other diseases.”
Sheldon West is a registered nurse in charge of Willis-Knighton's Shots-for-Tots program. She says that she has never seen a drop of vaccination rates in our area in the twenty years of the program.
"It's because people are afraid of the pandemic and they are following the orders to shelter in place," she said. "But, we want to emphasize we understand the shelter in place — but you have to get your kids immunized and keep them healthy."
What should parents and guardians do if their child falls behind on their vaccines? Dr. Bocchini says to reach out to your primary care physician or pediatrician as soon as you can to review immunization records and schedule a visit if you need to.
Programs like Shots-for-Tots are also available to the public.
“Just like in the pediatric offices and hospitals, we check temperatures, clean between each family," West said. "Just get your kids their immunizations, it’s very important.”