According to a press release from Unified Health Command, there's been a drop in routine vaccinations of children under 2 years of age since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. There's been an even more significant decrease in vaccinations of older children as well, reports the Center for Disease Control.

With fewer children receiving recommended vaccinations, healthcare providers in Yellowstone County are concerned there could be an increase in illnesses and other outbreaks.

As we’ve seen with recent outbreaks of measles, a drop in immunization rates could mean a resurgence of illnesses that have been nearly eradicated. This has the potential to have significant consequences for the health of our public when compounded with the risks of COVID-19. -Dr. Chris Baumert, family medicine physician with RiverStone Health

Parents are being urged by the Unified Health Command (Billings Clinic, RiverStone Health, St. Vincent Healthcare, and Yellowstone Co. Disaster and Emergency Services) to have childhood immunizations done on schedule.

To make sure everyone in your family is up-to-date on their immunizations, CLICK HERE for the Center for Disease Control's Vaccine Recommendations by Age.

Local healthcare organizations have implemented new procedures to provide a safe environment for patients to receive immunizations. Some precautions include:

  • Temperature checks for fever and screening for respiratory symptoms.
  • Appropriate masking.
  • Separation of well and sick children.
  • COVID-19 testing when necessary for procedures.

One thing the COVID pandemic has taught us, is how much we rely on the protection immunizations give to a population.  Clinics all over Montana are making changes so we can safely see kids and give vaccines, making the risk of bringing your child in to get their immunizations very low. The consequences of getting a vaccine-preventable disease, however, can be devastating. -Dr. Kathryn Lysinger, Billings Clinic pediatrician

Montana had several cases of the mumps last year in the Bozeman school district, according to Newsweek. Montana allows parents to exempt their children from vaccination if they feel it violates their religious beliefs.