Thousands of Ohio children are behind-schedule on their yearly vaccines, and the struggle to catch up could endanger their health if they return to in-person classes during the fall.
Nationwide Children’s Hospital physician Dr. Sarah Bode, making a guest appearance at Gov. Mike DeWine’s Tuesday news briefing, said her Columbus-based hospital network estimated about 16,000 children had gone without vaccination appointments in March and April.
“Additionally, when we think about the measles vaccine, we typically vaccinate over 1,000 a month with that particular vaccine,” she said. “In the month of April, as an example, that number was 32.”
Health care workers across the country have repeatedly expressed concerns that patients are avoiding necessary appointments due to a fear of catching COVID-19. Emergency room visits dropped sharply across the country in the early weeks of the pandemic. The CDC saw it nationwide. The University of Kentucky saw it in Lexington.
Even months on, the New York Times reported some Americans continue to avoid seeking care — both because of virus fears and because pandemic-related layoffs have destroyed their ability to pay for it.
Bode encouraged Ohio parents to have faith in their pediatricians, whom she said have worked hard to reopen with stockpiles of personal protective equipment, strict sanitary practices and adequate appointment spacing to prevent cross-contamination.
“What we want you to know is that pediatric offices are open and they’re safe,” she said.