With the past two years being consumed by the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic, normal and necessary childhood vaccinations have dropped ‘significantly’, according to local health officials.

We spoke with Brian Chaszar, Immunizations Manager with the Missoula City-County Health Department about the need for parents to resume normal childhood vaccinations, especially since August is National Immunization Awareness Month.

“National Immunization Awareness Month is really an annual observance held to highlight the importance of all vaccinations for all people,” said Chaszar. “But this year we're specifically trying to highlight the back-to-school population because we recognize that vaccinations among children have dropped significantly in the past year.”

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Chaszar was careful not to directly tie the drop in childhood immunizations with the COVID pandemic but said parents have experienced many distractions in looking after their families' health.

“Well, we don't really know what caused the drop, but certainly I would say parents had lots of other things to think about over the past two plus years,” he said. “In addition, kids weren't going to in-person classes as much, and so I think both those things contributed to just focusing on other things and forgetting about the schedule of routine vaccinations for kids.”

Chaszar lined out the many vaccinations that are not only recommended but actually required by public schools.

“There are over 10 vaccines that are recommended by the CDC and many of them are required by public schools, and even private schools,” he said. “There are vaccines that are intended to protect children from vaccine-preventable diseases, such as hepatitis B, varicella or chickenpox, measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, and a whole plethora of other things.”

We asked Chaszar to speak directly to Missoula area parents about the importance of getting their children properly vaccinated.

“To all the moms and dads out there in Missoula, we encourage you to come down to the health department to get your kids vaccinated or seek out your own provider,” he said. “At least go and have a conversation with the provider. Have someone look over your child's vaccination records and be informed about where they are on their vaccine schedule, and what is due. Whatever the decision is, ultimately, it's important to have that conversation and allow parents to make informed decisions.”

Call the Missoula Public Health Immunization Clinic at 406-258-3363.

Click here to view the recommended child and adolescent immunization schedule.

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Vaccinations for COVID-19 began being administered in the U.S. on Dec. 14, 2020. The quick rollout came a little more than a year after the virus was first identified in November 2019. The impressive speed with which vaccines were developed has also left a lot of people with a lot of questions. The questions range from the practical—how will I get vaccinated?—to the scientific—how do these vaccines even work?

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