CHARLOTTE, N.C. — North Carolina health officials are urging parents to get their kids up to date on immunizations as the state continues to open up.
Data shows a lot of children are behind on essential immunizations in North Carolina, especially because child health care visits decreased during the pandemic when families were stuck at home, health officials say.
“As children move into their preteen and teen years, they become more susceptible to certain diseases, making it especially important to stay current with immunizations. At the same time, preteens and teens tend to have fewer visits to their doctor’s office, increasing the chance that they are not up to date,” said Dr. Jessica L. Triche, FAAFP, president of the NC Academy of Family Physicians. “This decrease in immunizations accelerated among adolescents during the pandemic, when stay-at-home orders went into effect.”
Governor Cooper has declared July as Adolescent Immunization Awareness Month to bring attention to the importance of making sure kids are continuing to be vaccinated for preventable diseases like tetanus, diphtheria, meningococcal meningitis, measles, and HPV in a timely manor.
“Adolescent Immunization Awareness Month is an important reminder for families to make sure their children are up to date on vaccines,” said Dr. Christoph Diasio, FAAP, president of the NC Pediatric Society. “Even if parents were delayed in getting their children in due to COVID-19, now is the time to schedule well child and vaccination appointments, especially for year-round schools and sports.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is collaborating with the North Carolina Pediatric Society, North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians and local health departments on an awareness campaign to help ensure kids are being protected from all vaccine-preventable diseases including COVID-19 (which anyone 12-years-old and up is eligible for).
As of June 29th, health officials say only 25 percent of kids ages 12-17 in North Carolina have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
“This vaccine is very safe and effective and can be given at the same time as vaccines required for school,” said State Health Director and NCDHHS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson, MPH. “We encourage all parents to talk with their preteen’s or teen’s doctor about this important vaccine and its benefits.
Families who cannot afford to pay for their children’s vaccines are encouraged to check out the Vaccines for Children program here.
Click here to learn more about all required North Carolina school immunizations from Kindergarten to 12th grade.