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Northwest Colorado Health: Don’t delay immunizations

Jaclyn McDonald
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
Keeping children on track with their immunizations is important to prevent devastating diseases. Summer is a good time to get caught up on vaccines, well-child visits, and sports physicals.
Courtesy photo

The COVID-19 pandemic is a reminder of the lifesaving power of vaccines. 

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, an estimated 70% to 80% of children are not seeing their pediatric providers right now. This means that many children have missed receiving important immunizations to protect them against diseases like measles, meningitis and whooping cough. 

Immunizing infants, children and adolescents is important and should not be delayed. Parents should not have to worry that their infant could die of meningitis or measles — especially when we have vaccines to prevent these potentially devastating diseases. With no novel coronavirus vaccine available, the COVID-19 pandemic is giving all of us real-time insight into what this vulnerability feels like. Fortunately, we have vaccines to protect children and teens against 16 different diseases. 

“I’m concerned that children who have missed vaccines have also missed other critical health care that occurs during pediatric visits, including physical exams, developmental and mental health screenings, and other important care,” said Dr. Diana Hornung, Medical Director with Northwest Colorado Health. “I want to reassure families and patients that as providers, our number one priority is our patients’ health. We are taking necessary precautions to provide in-person care in our clinics, including requiring face coverings, separate sick and well visit times, socially-distanced waiting areas, frequent cleanings and continued virtual care options.”

As social distancing restrictions continue to lift and people begin to circulate, children and teens who are not vaccinated will be at higher risk for contracting a disease that could be prevented by a vaccine. And no matter what school looks like in the fall, children must still meet school vaccine requirements.

Immunization schedules are designed to protect individuals, especially young children, when they are most vulnerable to disease. Following the recommended vaccine schedule for babies and young children protects them against disease before they are likely to be exposed.

Adults also should keep up on their vaccinations. Every year, thousands of adults suffer serious illness, are hospitalized and even die from diseases for which vaccines are available, including influenza (flu), Hepatitis A and B, meningococcal disease (meningitis) and HPV — which can lead to cervical cancer. Recommended vaccination guidelines can be found at cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules

Northwest Colorado Health is open and ready to care for you and your family. Make an appointment today for a well-child visit or immunization. Call 970-824-8233 in Craig or 970-879-1632 in Steamboat Springs. 

Jaclyn McDonald is marketing coordinator at Northwest Colorado Health. She can be reached at jmcdonald@northwestcoloradohealth.org or 970-871-7642.


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