LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – August may be National Immunization Month, but pediatricians in Southern California say they are seeing alarmingly low vaccination rates since the pandemic.
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) pediatrician Colleen Kraft says she has seen drops anywhere from about 25 percent to, in some places, as high as 45 percent in immunization rates.
“As pediatricians, we are very concerned about the drops in immunization rates, ” Kraft says.
Dr. Nava Yeganeh at UCLA Medical Center says the drop could be even worse: anywhere from 40 to 90 percent in some of the vaccines.
Yeganeh says the double whammy of a vaccine-preventable disease coupled with COVID-19 could be very dangerous.
“So if you have COVID and influenza, those both are respiratory viruses that can really damage the lung,” said Yeganeh. “So if you have both, they can work together and it would be devastating and preventable.”
Even though California schools will be all remote for the start of the school year, state vaccination laws remain in effect, meaning students entering kindergarten, seventh grade, and high school still need to present their vaccination records to enroll.
Mothers like Yvette Flores, whose baby Bodhi was born at the start of the pandemic, are hesitant to leave the house – even to go to the pediatrician – because she fears exposure to the coronavirus.
And though Flores vaccinated her older child on time, she says she is holding off on Bodhi’s vaccinations, which he should have started receiving two months ago, according to CDC guidelines.
“I am not going cold turkey until we find a vaccination for the virus, but like I said, I am easing my way into it,” she said.
Both UCLA and CHLA insist it’s safe to bring in a baby or child for vaccinations. Doctors and staff are all put through daily health checks, as are patients.
CHLA is offering morning appointments just for well checks and shots, and are also doing drive-by vaccination clinics.