HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) – State health leaders say immunization rates are low among children and teenagers. It’s not just the COVID-19 vaccine officials are looking at, it’s also common childhood vaccines.
With the school year around the corner, DHEC officials said kids across the state are not up to date when it comes to vaccines and that can lead to more viral outbreaks.
DHEC officials urge parents to stay up-to-date with their children’s routine vaccines for diseases like measles and influenza. They also urge you get vaccines that protect against hepatitis and tetanus. Medical experts said the big drop in childhood immunizations started because of the pandemic, when parents delayed taking their children for routine medical visits and skipping immunizations.
Medical experts added while there are still plenty of children coming down with COVID-19, they are also seeing children developing other respiratory illnesses. They also said children behind on immunizations will lower herd immunity.
“More importantly children before they start Kindergarten, the 4-year-old have to have the tetanus, and before they go to 7th grade they have to have a different tetanus shot. Have to have fully documented that they are up to date,” Dr. Mark Bahan with Conway Medical Center said.
DHEC officials said staying up-to-date with immunizations can protect people and children from many different diseases and certain types of cancer.
With school starting up again in a couple of weeks, outbreaks of diseases like measles are more likely to spread among children who aren’t up to date on their vaccinations. Because of scientifically developed vaccines, many deadly and severe diseases are no longer a serious threat.
The CDC recommends people get certain immunizations at certain times in their lives to protect them from those illnesses. Dr. Bahan said at the start of the pandemic, he saw fewer parents and children in his office.
“Obviously over COVID, some people are falling a little behind and we are very busy dealing with shots and vaccines in the 4 and 12-year-old’s. Now, our office is flooded with patients doing it,” Dr. Bahan said.
As for the COVID-19 vaccine, medical professionals say misinformation on social media has played a role in low vaccination numbers. It’s best to rely on credible sources like DHEC and the CDC for accurate information about any vaccine.