OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Doctors are urging parents to get their children vaccinated before heading back to school.
According to a study from Lending Tree’s Quote Wizard, Oklahoma was found to have a 55% rate of child flu vaccinations, ranking it the 19th lowest rate in the nation.
Though COVID-19 safety is at the forefront of everone’s mind, health experts say it’s vital to protect kids against diseases even more dangerous to young ones.
As students head back to class, medical experts urge parents to make sure kids head back to the doctor’s office, too.
“The other vaccine-preventable diseases are actually more dangerous for children than COVID-19,” said Dr. Donna Tyungu, an associate professor of pediatric infectious diseases at OU Medicine.
She’s an expert on the topic, but she’s also a mom.
“I, myself, was nervous about going to the pediatrician’s office so I called ahead to see what they were doing,” she said.
Tyungu says safety protocols, like requiring masks, eased her concerns, adding that COVID-19 is not the only disease that should be on every parent’s mind right now.
“It may seem like a million years ago but we just had a measles outbreak in 2019 with more cases than we’ve seen in many many years,” she said.
The Oklahoma City-County Health Department is offering extended hours for vaccinations, even as more school districts move online for the start of the year.
“Even if it’s all virtual – it’s still important that your child is still getting those routine immunizations,” said LToya Knighten with OCCHD.
Tyungu says internationally, the safest returns to school have been dependent on low community spread.
“Like, less than 200 cases in a country typically, a country,” she said.
It’s a different story now in Oklahoma, though, as COVID-19 caseloads continue to break records.
“So, we really need the whole community involved to get back to school safely with everyone continuing to wear their mask,” said Tyungu.
If you’re nervous about taking your child to the pediatrician or health department, call ahead about their safety protocols.
Additionally, OCCHD offers mobile vaccination clinics occasionally – call or check their website for details.
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