Central Austin Edition - June 2020

VACCINATIONS Experts: pandemic leavingAustin kidsmore vulnerable to vaccine-preventable disease

Health Care Edition 2020

Missing the shot Due to stang modications, the city of Austin in March closed two of its clinics that provide low or no-cost vaccinations through the Shots for Tots program. VACCINES ADMINISTERED IN 2019 19,421 10,318

BY IAIN OLDMAN

illness, including COVID-19. These Saturday clinics have been very well-attended, Knapp said, leading her to believe that families do not want to risk visiting an area that has been potentially infected. “We think quite a bit of it is [that] people don’t want to be in a medical facility where people could have been sick,” Knapp said. For thousands of families in and around Austin, however, the ability to get their children vaccinated may have simply been taken away. Many health care providers may have been forced to pull doctors and nurses away from vaccination clinics to have them work on the coronavirus response, according to Allison Winnike, presi- dent and CEO of the Immunization Partnership, a Texas-based nonprot that aims to eradicate vaccine-preventable disease. Two city-operated immunization clinics have shuttered since March the North Austin St. John clinic at 7500 Blessing Ave.—provided thousands of pediatric vaccinations to residents monthly through Austin’s Shots for Tots program, which charges $10 per vaccine for children. The city’s website lists no other locations where the program was administered. If jobs lost during the pandemic become pro- longed windows of unemployment, the need for nonprot vaccination clinics will continue to rise. “Unfortunately, many of us are dependent on having a job to have insurance coverage,” Knapp said. “Of course, there will be fewer people who can protect their children against vaccine-preventable illnesses.” 17 as a result of the city’s response to the coronavi- rus pandemic, according to the city’s website. These two clinics—the Far South Austin clinic at 405 W. Stassney Lane and

At a time when general practitioners and pedi- atric care clinics are taking extraordinary safety measures, local health experts say many parents in and around Austin are hesitant to bring their children in for routine wellness checks and vaccina- tions because of concerns about the coronavirus. According to data provided to Community Impact Newspaper , Austin Regional Clinic experienced a 22% drop in administered pediatric vaccines in March and April as compared to the same time last year. Pediatric wellness checks also declined by 38%. “Nationally, we have seen that the number of children receiving vaccines has dropped, and we’ve also seen that within our own clinics,” said Dr. Elizabeth Knapp, co-chief of pediatrics at Austin Regional Clinic. As children miss sched- uled vaccinations for

North Austin St. John Clinic

Far South Austin Clinic

“WE THINKQUITE ABIT OF IT IS THAT PEOPLE DON’TWANT TO BE INAMEDICAL FACILITYWHERE PEOPLE COULDHAVE BEEN SICK.” DR. ELIZABETH KNAPP, COCHIEF OF PEDIATRICS AT AUSTIN REGIONAL CLINIC

potentially fatal diseases, such as measles and per- tussis, health care ocials are concerned Austin is growing increasingly vulnerable to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases.

SOURCES: FAR SOUTH AUSTIN CLINIC, NORTH AUSTIN ST. JOHN CLINICCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

On March 24, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance for parents and health care providers to continue routine pediatric wellness care and immunizations. Despite its guidance, the CDC reported as recently as May 15 the number of vaccines admin- istered nationwide has plummeted. The CDC states in its report that parents may be staying away from pediatric clinics out of concern over exposing their families to the coronavirus. At ARC, Knapp said the pediatric oces are oer- ing Saturday wellness check appointments where doctors only see patients who have no symptoms of

CAMERON RD.

A. St. John Clinic 7500 Blessing Ave., Austin

A

BLESSING AVE.

183

290

35

N

B. Far South Clinic 405 W. Stassney Lane, Austin

71

B

35

N

For 40 years!

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CENTRAL - 512-459-9090

SOUTH - 512-444-8866

WESTLAKE - 512-327-8877

NORTH - 512-219-9499

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CENTRAL AUSTIN EDITION • JUNE 2020

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