New York clinics race to catch up kids on vaccines as school approaches

Stacey Sager Image
Monday, August 1, 2022
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August is National Immunization Awareness Month, and amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many children have fallen behind on school vaccines. Stacey Sager has the story.

VALLEY STREAM, Long Island (WABC) -- August is National Immunization Awareness Month, and amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many children have fallen behind on school vaccines.

Additionally, with the rise in monkeypox cases, a polio infection in New York, and the ebb and flow of coronavirus cases, experts are urging Americans to keep up with their shots.

It is a busy month at Allied Physicians Group in Valley Stream, and the pediatric practice is still getting patients fully caught up on their vaccinations after large numbers of the littlest patients fell behind.

"Quite a bit, I would say about 40% to 50%, because when nobody was leaving the house during COVID," Dr. Lori Berman said. "Nobody came in."

But thanks to their outreach, patients like 2-month-old Azari got both the oral vaccine for rotavirus plus shots for polio, DTaP, and pneumococcal disease.

"The crying, it gets to me a little bit," mom Ashanna Grenville said. "But he's a big boy."

She, like many parents, is overwhelmed keeping up with the latest decisions regarding the COVID vaccines and figuring out when and what works best for her older child, who is now eligible.

"I'm pretty sure there are parents out there that are skipping some vaccines," she said. "Because it is kind of scary to put all different types of vaccines in them."

The CDC has said it's safe to combine the COVID vaccine with others, but hesitancy is prevalent for many childhood vaccinations -- especially on Long Island.

As of 2020 in New York state, 64.5% of children had completed their early childhood vaccines on schedule. But on Long Island, that number was only 59%.

"We really accommodate everybody," Dr. Berman said. "We'll make a delayed schedule. We'll work with our patients."

Experts say it is especially as the start of the school year approaches.

For a list of vaccines required to attend school in New York, visit the state Department of Health website.

The New York City Department of Education site lists required vaccines for city schools and daycares.

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