Doctors warn that a measles outbreak could occur following the COVID-19 pandemic due to a persistent decline in regular doctor's visits.
Doctors at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, have noticed that many families are not bringing children in for regular checkups during the pandemic. While there's a variety of vaccines that children should get, doctors are anxious about the drop in measles vaccinations.
"If not enough kids get enough of a vaccine, measles being one of those vaccinations, you can lose herd immunity," said Dr. Sara Bode, a pediatrician at Nationwide Children's. "That puts us all at risk of having an outbreak of that illness when we get back together again."
According to the World Health Organization, at least 93% of the population needs to get the measles vaccine to reach herd immunity.
Researchers have found that vaccine rates have dropped as low as 70% in some places in Ohio, which raises concern for a potential measles outbreak.
Typically, kids follow a type of "vaccine schedule" throughout their childhood. But many families have put vaccines for their children off amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Doctors say it's not too late to get those shots.
"If you're delayed in getting the measles vaccine, that's OK," Bode said. "Still come in and get it because it will protect you from the day you start to get it. So really, the only consequence would be that time that you are unprotected."
Anyone who is uncomfortable about stepping into a doctor's office should know that efforts are in place to make it a safe space for everyone. Parents can also seek out pop-up and mobile vaccination clinics as alternative places for children to catch up on vaccines.