Metro hospital sees a decrease in kids scheduled for routine vaccine appointments

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DES MOINES, Iowa — While COVID-19 vaccines are still the main focus across the country, local health professionals are concerned about a decrease in Iowa kids receiving routine vaccines. 

Dr. Nathan Boonstra, a general pediatrician at Blank Children’s Hospital, confirms that the UnityPoint Health facility has seen a decrease in kids coming in for these routine vaccinations for diseases such as measles, mumps, and rubella. Dr. Boonstra said it causes worry that those diseases could resurface at a major scale.

“We know there’s still basically a vaccine deficit on these school kids and preschool kids that may not be totally made up at this point. And so we’re worried about going forward that there’s going to be a group of kids at each age that might be under-immunized against these diseases,” Dr. Boonstra said. 

According to Dr. Boonstra, many vaccine appointments at Blank Children’s Hospital got pushed back during the beginning of the pandemic when the focus was on COVID-19 patients. Now, many of those same appointments have yet to be rescheduled.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in January, there was over a 30% COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy rate in the U.S. That has since dropped to 10%.

Dr. Boonstra voiced concern that attention around COVID-19 vaccines has led to a fear of other immunizations. The pediatrician said in order to prevent the resurgence of many diseases, it’s important for people to speak with their doctors about vaccines.

A COVID-19 vaccine isn’t yet available for children younger than 12 years old. Pfizer is continuing to seek FDA approval for kids who are between the ages of five and 11.

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