BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Adventist Health, in partnership with First 5 Kern, has had its mobile immunization clinics around since the ’90s, the focus being getting children vaccinated against preventable diseases. Thirty years later, why is this program more important than ever before?
That’s because we are seeing a decline in children receiving their normal booster shots and required immunizations for school. Health professionals are worried we may see outbreaks of preventable illnesses due to a fear of catching COVID-19, which kept parents from taking their children in to get routine healthcare over the past year.
Early on in the pandemic, hesitation grew around being in hospitals, doctor’s offices and medical clinics. Because of this, the pandemic has caused child vaccination rates to drop anywhere from 12- 20% in comparison to pre-pandemic times.
“Because of the pandemic, you had a lot of kids that were not in school they were home learning they were not getting seen for their well visits at the pediatrician’s office, and because they weren’t actually having to go to school and the school wasn’t checking you, had a lot of kids that were falling off,” said Kiyoshi Tomono, Partnership Executive for Adventist Health.
CAIR is the California Immunization Registry. They track all the immunization data from Pediatric doctors’ offices across the state. This year’s data shows unfortunate effects on child vaccination rates.
“So compared to pre-pandemic, 12% fewer kids under the age of 3 got their first MMR Vaccine, and 19% fewer kids four to six[years old] received their second MMR Vaccine, and 20% fewer adolescents that are the age 11-13 received their TDAP Booster,” Tomono said.
The MMR vaccine protects against Measles, Mumps, and Rubella while the TDAP vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. Both of these are required for school.
“Child well-being is kind of at the heart of what we are, after and in order for a kid to be well, we want them in school, we want them learning, and they can’t be in school and learning if they’re sick, if they’ve got exposure to some of these childhood illnesses they aren’t going to be in class,” Tomono said. “So the goal is to do some of this preventative work on the forefront so that later on down the road we aren’t having to deal with these outbreaks.”
Adventist health will be hosting a mobile vaccine clinic today in the Albertsons parking lot located at 1520 Brundage Ln. They will be there from 9-11:30 a.m. in the morning and 12-2 p.m. in the afternoon. A second vaccine clinic will be held in the Walmart parking lot on Colony street on Thursday.