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Batson Not Surprised Immunization Numbers Down

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader

The state reports routine immunizations are down 43 percent across Tennessee due to COVID-19 concerns.

Local pediatrician Dr. James Batson said this figure is not surprising. He said immunizations are critical, especially since children are returning to school.

“If they go down significantly and stay down, then not only are you going to see problems with a known pandemic, you’re going to see some of these diseases come back,” Batson said. “Measles is a great example, measles is actually several times more contagious than COVID-19.”

Batson said infants should have chicken pox, MMR, and Hepatitis A vaccinations. By the time children are kindergarten age, polio, tetanus, meningitis, pneumonia, and booster chicken pox and MMR immunization shots should be administered. Teenagers should have HPV and meningitis vaccines. He said if these vaccines aren’t administered, some of these diseases will return.

Immunizations are one of the top five public health successes in human history, Batson said. He said immunizations should continue, even if there are no disease outbreaks.

“Vaccines have become almost victims of their own success,” Batson said. “You don’t see these problems anymore so you think you don’t need to be vaccinated anymore, but that’s the only reason really that they stay suppressed. There’s only one disease that we’ve totally eradicated due to vaccinations and that’s smallpox back in 1978. They are as important today as they ever have been.”

Vaccines are safe, except for rare exceptions such as a patient on chemotherapy treatment or a rare immune deficiency. Batson said in this time of increased safety diligence of traveling and potential exposure, doctor offices are taking extreme precautions to ensure premium safety to reduce patient’s fears.

“Even though our ability to treat [diseases needing a vaccine] is better than it was years ago, you’re going to see the death rates from them go up,” Batson said. “For example, whooping cough, or pertussis, has been slowly going up since the late 90’s. It’s a great example of what can really put babies, especially young babies, in the hospital.”


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