At the primary care clinic in Dayton Children’s Hospital, we recognize the barriers to care that the pandemic caused. Pre-pandemic, Dayton Children’s Pediatrics had vaccine rates around the 90th percentile. During the height of the COVID era, some communities fell below 50% vaccine rates for routine vaccines. We are encouraging our patients to get back to health care appointments and update delayed routine vaccines.
We ask families about concerns they have around vaccines and try to provide the needed answers. We share the fact that, despite what they may see on social media, most people really do trust science and vaccinate their children. We know some families struggle to have access to care, and sometimes request vaccine exemptions just to keep their kids going to school and parents going to work. We try to offer every opportunity to update vaccines of the many, to keep other children safe who are too young or immune compromised to be vaccinated. Herd immunity is real and community vaccine rates of 85% are good, but 95% is better. We don’t have new data post-COVID yet for our clinic, but our staff is optimistic that we are gaining on that 95% goal of completion of childhood vaccinations by kindergarten and adolescence.
So if there are parents out there who want good information about vaccines, ask a trusted health care provider. For parents who want to do their own research, great resources include CDC.gov/vaccines, HealthyChildren.org and OhioAAP.org.
The last 40 years of children’s health care has seen great achievements, with children living to be healthy and productive adults. Let’s not slip back into the era of children dying from vaccine-preventable diseases. It takes a village to keep children safe, and vaccines for all eligible citizens is how we can do that.
Dr. Guerrero-Duby is a pediatrician with Dayton Children’s Pediatrics.