OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — As the pandemic continues, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE) said routine childhood vaccinations are down compared to 2019 which they said could be putting children and communities at risk.
When comparing January through September of 2020 and the same months of 2019, BCBSNE found the following:
- 10.6% decrease for MMR, protecting against measles, mumps and rubella
- 4.15% decrease for DTaP, protecting against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough
- 2.43% decrease for polio, protecting against poliomyelitis
Nationally, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Health of America found “vaccinations were down 26% for MMR, 26% for DTaP and 16% for polio nationwide” and estimate U.S. children will miss 9 million vaccination dosages by the end of 2020.
While Nebraska’s numbers are better than the national average, BCBSNE warns that there’s still cause for concern as fewer people being vaccinated could compromise herd immunity — which could lead to the spread of other diseases.
“In order to protect those who cannot get immunized because they’re immunosuppressed or undergoing cancer therapy, for example, we want to make sure a majority of our population is immune, so we can prevent that infection from taking hold and spreading rapidly,” Dr. Debra Esser, BCBSNE’s chief medical officer, said.
Medical professionals, like Children’s Physicians pediatrician Dr. Jane Carnazzo, said the repercussions of not getting vaccinated could be serious.
“Anyone who has practiced as long as I have will tell you how scary it is,” Carnazzo said. “Today I so rarely see that because of those very valuable vaccines that children get now in infancy.”
BCBSNE said the national study found 40% of parents listed the pandemic as the reason why they hadn’t had their children vaccinated.
Camazzo said fears of COVID-19 shouldn’t deter families as clinics and staff have safety measures in place to prevent patients from contracting it on site.
With that in mind, BCBSNE is encouraging families to get caught up on vaccines and routine appointments.
“People shouldn’t be afraid to get caught up; it’s an easy thing to do,” Carnazzo said. “It’s very safe to combine vaccines in childhood, and we have a very clear schedule for doing that. The important thing is that people get their kids immunized to prevent the diseases we know we can prevent, and that includes influenza.”