Vaccination rates drop during COVID-19 pandemic

The CDC says fewer children in the U.S. are receiving recommended immunizations since the start of the pandemic, and we are seeing the same trend locally, according to the Unified Health Command of Yellowstone County.

BILLINGS, Mont. -- The CDC says fewer children in the U.S. are receiving recommended immunizations since the start of the pandemic, and we are seeing the same trend locally, according to the Unified Health Command of Yellowstone County.

Dr. Kathryn Lysinger says even small drops in immunization rates can start widespread illness.  According to a study at the University of Michigan, the United States shows a 22% drop in immunization rates compared to last year.  Lysinger says we want to avoid vaccine-preventable diseases, especially during an outbreak like COVID-19.  She says preventable illnesses, like the measles, can bring a lot of complications for kids who aren't vaccinated.

"Kids who are at the youngest are the most susceptible," she says, "Their immune systems aren't fully developed and they're more likely to have complications from a lot of these illnesses that maybe adults would do fine with, and so we start vaccinating at 2 months."

Lysinger says the pediatrics department at Billings Clinic is taking extra precaution to keep children and their families safe.  They are using barriers to keep sick children away from healthy children, spacing out appointments so people don't gather in waiting rooms, temperature checking everyone who walks in, and making sure everyone has a mask.  Lysinger says because Montana is on the road to reopening, now is a great time to get vaccinated.

A list of recommended vaccines for children by age can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/vaccines-age.html

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