Oregon children falling behind in immunizations

August is Immunization Awareness Month and health officials are urging parents to make sure their children are caught up on vaccines. Oregon Health Authority officials and a local doctor said Oregon children are begin on their immunizations, for multiple reasons.

“Due to the pandemic, we’ve seen decreases in vaccination rates here in Oregon,”  said Stacy de Assis Matthews, the school immunization coordinator for OHA.

Some clinics were closed at the start of the pandemic and “parents may understandably be nervous about taking their kids to a doctors office right now,” said de Assis Matthews.

While Dr. Jim Shames has been encouraging limited interaction throught the pandemic, he doesn’t recommend skipping out on the doctor. “You can’t do a virtual immunization. It has to be an in person visit. Now, you know putting that off means their kids are behind in the immunization schedule,” said Dr. Shames.

Dr. Shames said when parents delay childhood vaccinations, they are taking a risk. “There are some diseases that are kind of always with us in a small degree,” said Shames.

Pertussis, measles and mumps are just a few of the diseases that can easily spread through a community, if people don’t have their immunizations.

“We saw outbreaks of measles last year so its really important that we do all we can do to prevent the diseases we can prevent,” said de Assis Matthews.

The flu vaccination is getting the biggest push from health officials this year.  “Both flu and COVID are respiratory viruses and we definitely don’t want people getting both at once,” emphasized de Assis Matthews. She says everyone six months old and older should get the flu vaccine.

If you aren’t sure if your child is up to date on their vaccinations, you can contact your pediatrician if you’re an established patient. If not, you can call 211 to locat the vaccination records.

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