May 19, 2020 — There’s been a significant decline in U.S. childhood vaccination rates during the coronavirus pandemic, and that has experts worried.

Children have fallen behind on vaccinations for diseases such as measles and whooping cough because fear of contracting the coronavirus has kept many parents from taking their children to doctors for well-child visits, The New York Times reported.

May vaccination rates for children aged 5 months and younger in Michigan fell to 49.7%, compared to about two-thirds in May 2016, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study.

The falling childhood vaccination rates in Michigan are concerning and quite likely mirror trends nationwide, study co-author Angela Shen, a research scientist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told the Times.

Those falling rates could endanger the herd immunity that’s been built up against diseases such as measles, she warned.

A community vaccination rate from 93% to 95% is needed to prevent a widespread outbreak of measles, according to public health officials.

“You are prone to potentially seeing measles outbreaks as communities and jurisdictions in Michigan — and arguably in other parts of the country — open up,” Shen, a retired captain in the U.S. Public Health Service, told the Times.

“This is a big week for opening up, and public health wants you to come in and get your shots,” she added.

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