Pediatrician urges families to get children immunized before back-to-school

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas plans to welcome students back to school, in-person, in the fall. But some pediatricians fear too few children have received routine immunizations.

Dr. Donald Murphey, a pediatrician at Dell Children’s Medical Center, said demand hasn’t really increased since the Centers for Disease Control reported a 2.5 million decline in non-influenza child vaccine orders from January to April.

“Kids need their well-child care, including immunizations,” Murphey said. “People are a little anxious about interacting with big groups of people, which is good, but also interacting with medical care.”

For uninsured families, Austin Public Health has a few slots remaining in July for child immunizations after working through a waiting list earlier in the summer.

Health departments, according to Immunization Project President Allison Winnike, have limited resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re looking to see what are some things that we can do as a community, as Texans, to open up access,” Winnike said.

Pharmacies could be the answer but, in Texas, they’re only allowed to immunize children 7 years-old and older.

“What we’re looking at is not only fighting the coronavirus but then fighting other outbreaks,” Winnike said.

Earlier this year, Austin Public Health reported the first cases of rubella and measles in Travis County since 1999.

“You could have things like a measles outbreak, you could have a mumps outbreak,” Murphey said. “I don’t think those things are going to happen but those things do happen in countries where you don’t have good immunization rates.”

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