’We do not need another problem’: Pediatrician warning community after seeing drop in vaccinations

Children’s well-visits and vaccinations keep other diseases from spreading

’We do not need another problem’: Pediatrician warning community after seeing drop in vaccinations

SAN ANTONIO – Local doctors are seeing the number of checkups and vaccine appointments plummeting and worry other diseases will spike as camps and day cares begin to open back up.

"We do not need another problem," said Dr. John Fitch, with Heritage Pediatrics in Alamo Heights.

Fear and closed offices have kept parents from taking kids to the doctor for their vaccinations and well visits.

"We're seeing across the country that vaccination rates are down. There was some Michigan data that shows, recently, there's been a 20% down, and the younger infants (are) up to 50% down," Fitch said.

Skipping child vaccine appointments during COVID-19 crisis could put community in danger

Fitch and his colleagues are concerned.

"Once the rates start to drop, you can start seeing illnesses like measles, pertussis, meningitis," Fitch said.

Although vaccination and well visit rates are down nationwide, Fitch and his team have found a way to keep almost 100% of their patients vaccinated.

There's one main reason why -- they are letting parents drive up for their kids to get vaccines while in the car.

"We would do a telemedicine visit, and then we would schedule them a time to come over and do shots in the car, and it actually went remarkably well and efficient," Fitch said.

Fitch said he has seen other physicians get creative, too.

"Just have a certain period of time when people are just coming in for infants to make them feel more comfortable. A lot of offices would see well patients in the morning and sick patients in the afternoon," he said.

Even though stay-home orders are relaxing and offices are reopening for in-person doctor visits, Fitch said there are reasons to continue these options.

At-risk patients and worried parents may still be uncomfortable going into offices. And many medical professionals predict another COVID-19 spike this fall.

Either way, kids are getting back to normal activities, and without updated vaccines, Fitch says COVID-19 would become one of many diseases with which parents will have to worry.

Kids can get some of those illnesses while social distancing since they're not transmitted from person-to-person.

He also reminded parents that some diseases, like tetanus, are not transmitted from person-to-person. Tetanus can come from the dirt, so even if kids are social distancing, it’s essential to get those vaccines, as well.

About the Authors:

Courtney Friedman is a KSAT anchor and reporter. She has an ongoing series called Loving in Fear, confronting Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She's also covered Hurricane Harvey, the shootings in Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe, and tornadoes throughout Texas. She’s a California native and proud Longhorn who loves calling SA home.

Before starting at KSAT in August 2011, Ken was a news photographer at KENS. Before that he was a news photographer at KVDA TV in San Antonio. Ken graduated from San Antonio College with an associate's degree in Radio, TV and Film. Ken has won a Sun Coast Emmy and four Lone Star Emmys. Ken has been in the TV industry since 1994.