HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Over the past year and a half, the pandemic has been the root cause behind shortages and delays across the globe. It seems the latest impact is on the routine vaccine rate for kids.
In Alabama, thousands of kids are missing out on crucial vaccines for diseases such as tetanus, whooping cough, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and chicken pox, according to Dr. Wes Stubblefield. He is the district medical officer for the northern and northeastern district at the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Recently, AL.com reported a 26% drop in immunizations statewide. Dr. Stubblefield told News 19 he was searching for the updated ADPH numbers and would update the team when they are available.
He says the reason behind the declining numbers have to do with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Parental vaccine hesitancy or that feeling of ‘I’m not sure it this is right’ has gotten stronger and more people seem to be wanting to either refuse vaccines altogether or delay introducing vaccines,” said Dr. Stubblefield.
He says the second reason is the pandemic forcing patients to delay appointments.
“A lot of parents were either nervous to bring their children to the doctor, fearing they would get sick. Some offices were limiting hours for patients that were well to keep the focus on the sick patients and to separate the well and the sick patients.”
Dr. Stubblefield adds that 7% of school-aged children in the state were not up-to-date on the regular vaccines. These are the ones required for public-school entry.
Dr. Stubblefield says in the past, Alabama has done very well with basic immunizations. He hopes as the stresses surrounding the pandemic ease, numbers will rise back to normal.
Over the past few years, different parts of the nation have seen outbreaks for things like hepatitis and measles. Dr. Stubblefield says the only way to prevent the spread of these diseases is to stay up-to-date on regular vaccines.