CLEVELAND — The World Health Organization wants preventative vaccine campaigns put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic, but that leaves more than 100 million children at risk of missing out on important vaccinations.
Dr. Amy Edwards, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at University Hospitals, said delaying vaccines comes with a risk-benefit analysis with no definitive, correct answer.
She said it depends on how old your child is and who your child is exposed to on a day-to-day basis.
Her advice: if your child is under 1 year of age, don’t skip vaccine appointments.
“When they're very young, there's a lot of things that they're at risk for, even if they don't get exposed to society,” she said. “Some of the diseases that we vaccinate infants for are things they could even just catch from their family.”
She said that’s why many pediatricians are continuing to vaccinate newborns and infants.
“For instance, the pneumonia vaccine, the pneumococcal vaccine, that actually protects you against a bacteria that we all carry in the back of our throat. So, it's not about going out and getting exposed to the environment, you have it in your own body,” said Dr. Edwards.
However, most shots after the initial infant ones are booster series and your child may already have some immunity.
“Especially like the 18- month shots, those are all booster vaccines. So, the kid is partially immune and given that they're sequestered at home, I think that booster could be given at any time.”
But she said it’s different for each family and each unique situation. Talk to your pediatrician about what they believe is best.
“Is your kid in a daycare? Is your kid sequestered at home? Are they booster vaccines or not booster vaccines? That sort of thing,” said Dr. Edwards.
Also, ask who your pediatrician is treating at the time and consider if they’re part of a bigger hospital system that’s treating COVID-19 patients.
“If your pediatrician is shut down and only seeing well babies and only doing vaccines and well child checks, then it actually is very, very safe if you just go straight to the pediatrician’s office and straight home.”
If you’re worried about your child getting off schedule, she said don’t.
"There's a makeup schedule for all of the vaccines. So, if during this time your kid gets off schedule, as soon as things open back up again, you can easily work with your pediatrician to do that makeup schedule,” said Dr. Edwards.