A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Parents urged to get kids caught up on missed doctor visits as schools prepare to reopen this fall

By Nadia Ramlagan
Public News Service

A new report by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, urged parents to get their children caught up on missed doctor visits, and in some cases, vaccinations, to protect themselves and their communities before they return to school.

Emily Beauregard, executive director of Kentucky Voices for Health, said wellness visits for kids under age five dropped 75% last March nationwide, mirroring the trend seen in the Commonwealth.

For Kentuckians on Medicaid, between March and June 2020, immunization rates declined 46% for children ages 4-6 and 57% for adolescents compared to the same period in 2019, according to the Kentucky Dept. for Medicaid Services. (NKyTribune file)

She noted kids are less protected than ever, increasing the odds of measles or hepatitis outbreaks during the school year.

“And I think any parent who has a child in daycare right now has seen the spread of viruses come back in force since mask mandates have ended,” Beauregard asserted. “So, if we don’t get immunization rates back up to herd immunity levels again, we’re going to be facing the possibility of multiple outbreaks of vaccine-preventable illnesses.”

According to the report, Black children are least likely to receive all recommended vaccines, while Asian children are the most likely. Some parents don’t immunize children for religious reasons. Others worry about potential health risks of some vaccines, although those are reported to be extremely rare.

Dr. Alexander Saurer, pediatrician at Frontier Medical Associates in eastern Kentucky, said kids who miss wellness visits are less likely to receive needed therapies and treatments.

“Specifically speaking to autism and other developmental delays, when know that the earlier we get these kids enrolled in early interventions, the better their outcomes are as they get older,” Saurer emphasized.

Saurer also pointed to a worsening obesity epidemic among children in the state, and said wellness visits can ensure kids stay healthy.

“We’re seeing growth charts just jumping up and seeing a lot of kids in the obese category currently,” Saurer reported. “So, we’re really working on that right now, getting kids back on track to being physically active.”

For information on recommended childhood immunizations in the Commonwealth, parents can visit the state’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services website.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment