COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, vaccinations have sharply declined nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Data shows that vaccine rates have declined between 30 and 40 percent from April of last year, specifically in kids ages 0 to 24 months.
Experts say kids are likely falling behind because of parents canceling their routine pediatric check-ups to limit exposure to COVID-19.
But with schools hoping to come back to in-person learning in the fall - the El Paso County Health Department is urging parents to get up to date with their kid's wellness checks and shots.
Dr. Robin Johnson, the medical director at the El Paso County Public Health Department, says if kids continue to fall behind on their vaccines, we could end up with an epidemic of preventable diseases.
But it may be harder for some parents to access healthcare services during this time. El Paso County's immunization clinic, which provides low-cost vaccines to adults and kids, has been closed to the public because of the pandemic.
Families who are uninsured, underinsured, or are on Medicaid have been impacted by that closure the most.
“We are working with Children’s Hospital, Peak Vista, and the school districts to identify where we need to step up some of those access points," says Dr. Johnson. “We not only need for you to vaccinate your child for your child’s sake, but to gain enough herd immunity that we’re not seeing a spread to the greater population.”
The Centers for Disease Control also reported a notable decrease in the number of vaccines ordered through a federal program that immunizes more than half of all kids in the U.S.
The drop puts millions of kids at risk for measles, whooping cough, and rubella, just to name a few.
Johnson says the health department has been working closely with doctors' offices to make sure they are safe for parents and children. She added that schools should not offer any leniency when it comes to kids being up to date with their immunizations should they return to in-person learning come fall.