JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With many Northeast Florida students returning to the classroom in the coming days, health officials want to remind parents and guardians to make sure their children are up to date on all of their immunizations.
Dr. Akilah Pope with the Florida Department of Health in Duval County says it is believed immunizations decreased a lot during the pandemic.
“We believe that it really happened because people were fearful of being exposed to the COVID-19 disease,” Dr. Pope said. “As well as thinking that immunizations were not an essential health care service.”
Dr. Pope and other doctors say the Covid-19 battle isn’t over. So, it is very important to do everything possible to avoid any other outbreak.
“What we have to remember is that diseases are still present,” Dr. Pope said. “They have not disappeared.
Some of the required immunizations for school include, but are not limited to, the DTaP (Diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis), IPV (Inactivated polio vaccine), and MMR (Measles-mumps-rubella). Dr. Pope reminds parents many of these diseases are dangerous.
Take measles, for example. Dr. Pope says symptoms include, but aren’t limited to high fever, rash, and cold-like symptoms. “Now, children under the age of five, and adults over the age of 12 can suffer from complications,” Dr. Pope said. “Some of those complications can be air infections, diarrhea, and more serious complications can be pneumonia, as well as a disease called encephalitis which is swelling of the brain.”
With many people still hospitalized with COVID-19, Dr. Pope reiterates how detrimental things could be if another outbreak were to occur.
“This would be extremely difficult for our community to face right now, it would be extremely difficult challenge,” Dr. Pope said. “If we let ourselves become vulnerable, by not vaccinating, an outbreak of a dangerous disease that is actually already under control could occur.”
Right now, only children aged 12 and up are eligible to be vaccinated for COVID-19. Dr. Pope advises parents to consider it for their kids.
“We want the parents and the children to be safe,” Dr. Pope said. “We also want them to get the most out of their school year.”
Influenza. Influenza or ‘flu’ is a viral respiratory illness, mainly spread by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. Influenza can cause mild to severe illness. Serious outcomes of flu infection are hospitalization or death. Florida is currently experiencing a moderately severe influenza season.
As always, your child’s pediatrician is the place to go for immunizations. But the Florida Department of Health is another resource. The number to call is: 904-253-1420.