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Why Your Child Needs to Catch Up on Missed Vaccines

child sitting in doctor's office wearing mask with provider holding arm

If your kids missed vaccines due to COVID-19, it’s time to schedule a medical appointment.

When doctors’ offices closed during the coronavirus pandemic, that delayed recommended vaccines for many kids. Now that medical offices are open for in-person visits, make sure your kids get caught up.

How Vaccines Protect Your Child

Vaccines, also known as immunizations, contain killed or extremely weak versions of a virus. Injecting small amounts of a virus into the body triggers the production of antibodies, proteins that find and attack viruses.

If your kids are exposed to a virus, these antibodies attack the virus before they become sick. In some cases, children may need to receive a series of shots at specific intervals to maximize immunity.

Kids won’t become sick after receiving immunizations. But they may have a few mild side effects for a day or two, such as a low fever or fussiness.

Some parents fear that childhood immunizations may cause autism. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), research studies have shown no link between vaccines and autism.

What Happens If Children Aren’t Immunized

If your child missed vaccines, one or more of these things may happen.

They May Get Sick

Immunizations protect from many viral illnesses, including:

These diseases can lead to serious health complications and may even cause death.

Immunizing your child protects them from experiencing uncomfortable or potentially life-threatening complications from these illnesses.

Illnesses May Spread Through Communities

Immunizing the majority of the population keeps illnesses from spreading. The increase in measles cases in the U.S. offers a perfect illustration of this effect. Measles outbreaks occurred infrequently after the introduction of the measles vaccine in the late 1960s.

Unfortunately, cases are once again rising due to parents who don’t believe in immunizing children. There were more than 1,200 measles cases in 31 states in 2019. This was the highest number of U.S. cases reported since 1992, according to the CDC.

Viruses Can Have Lasting Effects

Although your child may recover from a viral illness, life may never be the same.

Some children:

It’s impossible to predict which children will recover with no lasting effects and which will develop severe and long-term complications.

Need to See a Pediatrician?

UVA Children's is open for in-person and virtual care.

Public School Might Not be an Option

Due to recent disease outbreaks, some school districts are eliminating immunization exemptions. They may no longer allow personal or religious exemptions but make exemptions for medically fragile children. If your district adopts a no-excuses policy, your unvaccinated child won’t be able to attend public school.

Immunizing children offers a simple, safe way to protect their health. If your kids have fallen behind on their shots due to coronavirus closures, now is the perfect time to make an appointment for your children to get the immunizations they need.

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