NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF — The Tennessee Department of Health is reminding parents to keep their child's routine checkups and vaccinations up-to-date, saying "thousands of children" are behind on vaccinations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We know there are thousands of children in Tennessee who are behind on vaccinations because of the pandemic,” Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP said in a press release. "It is critical that all children are up-to-date with their childhood vaccinations so they are protected and so that Tennessee avoids additional disease outbreaks."
Doctor Piercey issued the reminder on National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), which highlights the positive impact of vaccination on the lives of infants and children.
She said on-time vaccinations are becoming even more important for children as COVID-19 restrictions are loosened and they return to in-person play and learning. She urged parents to check with their child’s medical provider or county health department to schedule any missed appointments during the pandemic shutdown.
Professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, Dr. Joseph Gigante added annual wellness exams not only ensure kids are on track developmentally, but that they are up to date on recommended vaccines. He said parents should feel safe bringing their children into a doctor's office or clinic for an appointment.
"The last thing we need in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic, is having a measles outbreak because too many children are under-immunized and measles starts to circulate around the community," said Dr. Gigante.
"We went to her 2 year checkup and got her flu shot and everything she needed," said Kyssara Nunley, mother of Evelyn who is two and a half. "We felt completely safe."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also recommend children continue to attend annual doctor's appointments and receive recommended vaccinations during the pandemic.
NIIW runs through May 1.