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Doctors Urge Parents to Get Kids' 'Back-to-School' Exams, Shots

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Wednesday, August 4, 2021   

SALT LAKE CITY -- It is getting to be "back-to-school" time in Utah, and pediatricians say a visit to the doctor is as important as new pencils or new shoes before kids return to the classroom.

Since so many children have been home-schooled for the past year, a new report showed they may be behind on their childhood inoculations, which doesn't include the COVID-19 vaccine.

The report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute indicated last year saw at least a 27% drop in kids' doctor visits.

Dr. Jennifer Brinton, president of the Utah Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said it is important for children to be healthy when they return to school.

"It's very important for kids to stay up to date on their immunizations," Brinton urged. "And unfortunately, with all the disruptions that have happened with the pandemic, nationally and in Utah, we have children who are behind on immunizations of all ages, infants on up to teenagers."

Parents in Utah must provide evidence of kids' receiving six different vaccinations, including polio, mumps-measles-rubella and hepatitis. Check with your child's school for the list. Some parents don't immunize kids for religious reasons or concerns about potential health risks, although those are reported to be extremely rare.

Brinton pointed out having to stay home with a serious illness can cause a child to miss days or even weeks of class time, and catching up on their lessons afterward is a major challenge.

"It's interesting, especially those first few years of school, as kids are learning the alphabet, learning basic math," Brinton remarked. "When they miss those classes because of illness, it takes a long time to make up for it. It can put them back, behind in school, for years."

Dr. Lee Beers, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said parents need to make sure every child in their community has equal access to a clean bill of health to return to school.

"Children from households that are low-income and children of color are more likely to have missed vaccines, and more likely to have missed their well visits," Beers reported. "It's so important that we remove any barriers we can to make sure that all kids can get in to see their pediatrician as soon as possible."

The report said while most parts of the country have vaccinated enough children to reach "herd immunity," there are still concerning outbreaks of infectious diseases, like measles and mumps.


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