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  • Writer's pictureOklahoma Alliance For Healthy Families

Plan for spring sports, summer activities, school enrollment: Schedule your child’s vaccination

School enrollment, spring sports and swimming lesson sign-up are on family agendas this spring. Adding a doctor’s appointment to the list of spring to-dos can help parents stay a step ahead during fall’s busy back-to-school season.

Pediatricians have expressed concern over missed immunizations during the pandemic, with falling vaccination rates nationwide. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine data shows a 14% drop in 2020-2021 compared to 2019, and the measles vaccine is down by more than 20%, according to the agency’s digital CDC Childhood Vaccination Toolkit for Clinicians.

The COVID-19 vaccine has brought new scrutiny of other vaccines. Vaccination disinformation, antivax theories on social media and the decision to forego the short-term risk of visiting medical centers are listed as contributing factors with potential long-term consequences, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) concluded in December 2021.

Just 7% of local children ages 5 to 11 were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of January 2022, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), News 6 reported, while the national average is about 15%. COVID vaccination rates for older children were also significantly lower, with just 33% of Oklahoma 12 to 17 year olds having received both immunizations. Vaccination is our best public health safeguard against preventable illnesses. From pertussis and flu to measles, mumps, COVID and other diseases, significant reductions in child mortality have been attributed to higher vaccination rates. Preventing community spread is also achieved when children are immunized, which not only protects the child, but their peers, teachers and grandparents and younger siblings in the home who are not old enough to get vaccinated. Read more about why maintaining immunization standards in our schools is vital from a nurse’s perspective.

Vaccine resources for parents:

  • Know what to expect with the OSDH vaccine schedule: Your pediatrician’s office will follow its own recommended schedule for vaccines. Most schools and some after-school or extracurricular programs will request children be immunized according to the OSDH list here. Colleges, too, often have vaccine requirements to complete enrollment. See the list for your college-bound student. If you are not sure which vaccines your child has received, see our list of tips here on how to access records.

  • Catch up on missed vaccinations: If you have moved from another state or skipped a well child check, your child may have missed age-appropriate vaccinations. Whether you schedule a new appointment or seek services through a community-based provider, it’s important to catch up. See our list of ways to get back on track.

  • Find immunizations through the Vaccines for Children Program: If you do not have insurance or qualify through specific federal programs, the Vaccines for Children Program offers immunizations through more than 750 clinics and providers. Get information on who qualifies and what is covered.

  • Ease fears: If you have concerns about vaccination, talk with your pediatrician or primary care provider. Find strategies here to ease anxiety over needles and develop a comfort routine for your child.

Check one item off your list as you look ahead to spring activities and beyond. Plan ahead for years of protection against childhood illnesses by scheduling your child’s immunization appointment today.


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