BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — As children return to in-person learning, health officials are worried about diseases besides COVID-19 breaking out in our schools, due to some parents avoiding getting their children vaccinated from various other diseases.
We've all been staying home during the pandemic and some parents have been avoiding their children's doctor's appointments which means many kids aren't vaccinated as they head back into the classroom.
"You've got mumps, rubella, rubeola, tetanus, chickenpox, i mean, you name it," said Kiyoshi Tomono, Adventist Health Partnership Executive.
Those are some of the diseases children get vaccinated for before going to school.
But Adventist Health Partnership Executive Kiyoshi Tomono says we're at risk of losing herd immunity to those diseases because of COVID-19.
"Our sense was, especially during the pandemic, people were afraid to go out and get care, and I don't think we're entirely over that yet."
Tomono says with distance learning, fewer children are getting necessary vaccines.
He says parents have been avoiding healthcare clinics because they're afraid they'll catch coronavirus, but those other diseases? Are equally as concerning.
"We get to a point in kind of our generations where people forget, I think, the danger of these diseases out there beyond COVID and how impactful they can be and if we're not getting our kids vaccinated, that's the potential reality we could face."
Adventist Health offers a free children's mobile immunization program.
"It's an important, critical service. It isn't something somebody should just skip because of the pandemic."
Tomono says some clinics are structured to give out COVID vaccines in the morning and all other vaccines in the afternoon.
If there are leftover COVID vaccines, parents visiting in the afternoon can get those shots. And COVID precautions are in place like face shields, masks, constant disinfecting and only allowing in healthy patients.
"Our unit only sees kids that are well that are just there to get immunized."
For parents still hesitant about vaccinating their kids, Tomono offers this advice. "Do your own research, but my caveat to that is do your own research with credible sources."
The mobile clinic is free for kids ages 6-18. They target kids with no health insurance, but all are welcome.