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Doctors fear major drop in routine vaccines in kids could cause huge concern for back to school

A recent federal health report warned that routine vaccinations for diseases like measles and whooping cough in children dropped dramatically during the pandemic.

WASHINGTON — We are just a couple of months away from the start of a new school year. For many students, it will be the first time they are back in school full time since the start of the pandemic. But some experts are concerned about what that return to school might look like. 

A recent federal health report found routine childhood vaccinations dropped dramatically during the pandemic. Now, pediatricians are pushing for parents to get their kids up to date on their shots. 

RELATED: 13 mass vaccinations sites to remain open across Maryland

Dr. Anisha Abraham is a pediatrician at Children's National Hospital. She is among health experts nationwide, urging parents to act quickly. The lag could potentially cause outbreaks of preventable diseases like measles and whooping cough. 

"This is a very important time to prepare to make sure back to school happens safely," said Abraham. 

The report saw a substantial decrease in routine vaccines from March to May of 2020. Doses gradually increase from June to September 2020, but experts said the increase wasn't enough to prevent potential outbreaks. 

It's a concern big enough that health officials said it could impact the reopening of schools in the Fall. 

"If there's even a few cases of measles, it could cause an outbreak and that could be enough for classes and schools to be closed. Even one case is too much," said Abraham. 

The report also found a drop of more than 70% in HPV vaccines at the start of the pandemic. That has health officials concerned about long-term effects. HPV infections can often take years to develop and can lead to cervical cancer and genital warts. 

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that COVID-19 and routine vaccinations can be administered at the same time. That means parents only have to make one appointment to get their kids up to date on their shots and protected from coronavirus. 

RELATED: Kids ages 12 to 15-years-old can now get COVID-19 vaccine in DC

"We know so much has happened during the pandemic in terms of parents being reluctant to come into offices, but now is the time to contact your pediatrician to ensure that things continue to do well. 

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