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Parents are understandably nervous about taking their children and teens to their doctors’ offices right now. As a result, children in Oregon are falling behind on their childhood vaccinations.
August is National Immunization Awareness Month and we want to work with families to ensure this pandemic is not followed by an increase in cases of vaccine-preventable diseases or a preventable outbreak.
"How students attend school is changing because of COVID-19," says Stacy de Assis Matthews, school immunization coordinator at OHA. "We want to make sure students are fully vaccinated, so they are protected in whatever form their school looks like: in a classroom, in a small group cohort, or online at home with their family."
Families have the power to protect their children against serious, potentially life-threatening diseases. Parents should talk to their child’s doctor or nurse about whether they have missed any routine vaccines.
Before rescheduling any upcoming childhood vaccination or well visit appointments, call the child’s health care provider to find out if the appointment can remain as scheduled and what precautions they are taking to keep everyone safe from COVID-19.
Many health care providers’ offices are taking special precautions such as ensuring children who are well are kept separate from sick children.
Many providers are limiting the number of people who can go with a child to their appointment and are taking temperatures of all family members before allowing them into the building.
Some providers are providing drive-up vaccine programs.
With so many people out of work and without health insurance, it’s important to know you can still keep your child safe. The Vaccines for Children (VFC) program offers free vaccines to families who cannot afford to pay for their children’s vaccines. Call 211 to find out more about VFC.
If your children need health insurance, they may be eligible for the Oregon Health Plan (OHP). It is open to all children and teens younger than 19, regardless of immigration status, who meet income and other criteria. Trained community partners across the state can help you fill out an application. It's free. Visit http://www.OHP.Oregon.gov to find community partners in your area.