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Fewer Utah kids receive routine vaccinations during pandemic, doctors say

SALT LAKE CITY — Doctors across Utah have noticed a troubling trend of fewer children receiving their routine vaccinations over the course of the last year.

That decline could cause major issues if we see a resurgence in certain contagious diseases. 

Dr. Daniel Chappell, a family physician in Farmington, told KSL TV he noticed a drop in appointments last spring at the beginning of the pandemic.

“I have seen a decline,” he said. “Probably up to 30% of patients haven’t come in for their shots.”

Rich Lakin, immunization director with the Utah Department of Health, said this trend in delaying vaccinations could have an adverse effect. It could hamper progress on achieving herd immunity or eliminating some childhood diseases.

Fewer vaccinations could lead to more Utah outbreaks

“As we know, 2020 was a crazy year. And, basically, what happened is that a lot of schools were impacted, a lot of physicians were impacted, public health was impacted because we really had to put resources toward COVID,” Lakin said. “There were those that did not go in for well-child checkups, and that’s mostly when you get your vaccines.

“For measles, you got to have a 95% herd immunity. It’s extremely contagious,” he explained. “So, if you have a rate that is lower than 95%, that means we can have measles cases start to pop up again.

“I’m anticipating that there’s going to be more outbreaks,” Lakin said. “There’s a very good chance that we’re going to be busy two to five years from now, ensuring the safety of our students.”

Read more: The US eliminated measles in 2000. The current outbreak could change that

Chappell said that some of the reluctance may come from people avoiding the doctor’s office because of COVID-19. He reassured parents that offices across the state take plenty of precautions to keep everyone healthy.

From KSL TV: Experts Sound Warning As Utah Student Vaccination Rates Show Troubling Trend

“(Potential COVID-19 patients) don’t even come up into the clinic space itself,” he said. “We reserved the clinic space for the babies and the well-child checks … so it’s a very safe environment to bring your child to get vaccinated at a clinic or hospital.”

More: Thousands of US toddlers unvaccinated; health officials react

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus spreads person to person, similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Wear a mask to protect yourself and others per CDC recommendations.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet).
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities).
  • Obtain a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A 

Utah’s Coronavirus Information 

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States

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