SAN ANGELO, Texas — Parents might be opting out of sending their children back into the classroom this upcoming fall semester, however, that does not mean they can opt-out of sending their children back into the doctor's office to get back-to-school vaccines.
"While kids may be virtual during the fall, there are still risks for additional diseases that are childhood diseases," said Cashoyna Tillis, a pediatric nurse practitioner at La Esperanza Clinic in San Angelo.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since the COVID-19 pandemic began, many parents have not kept their children's shots up to date. Tillis said she believes many parents are falling behind on vaccine schedules because they are fearful of bringing their children into doctor's offices and possibly exposing them to COVID-19.
"Parents are a little afraid to bring their children into the clinic because the perception is that it increases the risk of their child acquiring COVID-19. We are not seeing children falling and lagging behind severely, but if there's a continuation, they will begin to lag behind," she said.
Tillis said parents should not be fearful of bringing their children into clinics because those are the places that are practicing the highest amount of COVID-19 safety protocols.
"We are social distancing, hand washing, and we're in the rooms with PPE (personal protective equipment) on. We have numerous protocols in place to decrease that risk," she said.
Finally, Tillis said it is important that children receive their immunization shots regardless of whether or not they will be learning in the classroom this fall, because exposure to harmful pathogens can take place anywhere.
"Say you take a child out to the supermarket or to the store... We have to remember that parents are still working during the pandemic, so parents can also bring viruses and bacteria back into the home as well," she said.
The CDC has a catch-up schedule posted for parents who have fallen behind on vaccine schedules.