Staying up-to-date on immunizations during COVID

Published: Aug. 3, 2020 at 9:02 AM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - As we all learn more about back to school plans for our kids and prepare them to return to class, largely in-person, COVID-19 may be front and center.

But there are a few other medical concerns you may still need to address.

Carleen Wild spoke with Dr. Shari Eich, an Avera Family Medicine Physician about immunizations.

Carleen Wild: With people staying home and social distancing, has there been a drop in people coming in to get vaccinations?

Dr. Shari Eich: Yes.. because people were afraid to come in when COVID first started, it's important to get caught up now that we all have these precautions in place.

Wild: How important is it these get done before the start of school?

Eich: There are vaccines required before kindergarten and sixth grade. It’s really important to get everyone caught up before they start to mingle again and we increase the risk of transmitting these vaccine-preventable illnesses.

Wild: So for parents, which are most important they get shots for?

Eich: For entry into kindergarten and pre-kindergarten, two MMRs, two Chicken Pox, Polio and D-Tap. For middle schoolers, Meningitis and T-Dap booster.

Wild: For college students?

Eich: College students need to make sure they’re up to date on all vaccines. So hopefully they’ve had HPV series, Hepatitis A, Meningitis, but there are two shots, Meningitis B as well.

Wild: Many parents concerned about COVID. Should parents be equally concerned about other communicable diseases?

Eich: Absolutely. COVID is not as severe for younger kids, unlike most other viruses we see. But things like measles or pertussis can be very severe for young kids. We need to prevent the diseases we can, it's so critical. Imagine having a Measles outbreak in the middle of the COVID pandemic. That would be awful.

Wild: Please talk about masks and how difficult might they be for kids to wear. What would you recommend to parents to get kids ready and have it be part of the routine?

Eich: Kids are pretty good about modeling what they see. If everyone around them is wearing a mask they’re going to wear a mask. Now, it’s not an easy thing to do, but you get used to it so I would start having them practice now, so they get used to it and tell them this is how it’s going to be for a while.

Wild: Yes, kids are adaptable, aren't they?

Eich: They really are.

Wild: Dr. Eich, thanks for joining us,

The best thing you can do along with all of this, says Dr. Eich, is just teach your children now, to be more aware of giving others space, not touching their face, and washing their hands often. Not only will these practices help keep them and their classmates safer from all viruses that may be circulating, but in turn, everyone at home as well.

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