MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - As the school year begins across the Mid-South, healthcare professionals are reminding parents about the importance of vaccinations.
“I think vaccines are important as always, and probably even more so now,” said Dr. Jennifer Snow, an ICU doctor at Baptist Children’s Hospital.
Snow says vaccines are a key element to childhood development.
"We do not want an outbreak of a disease that's actually preventable during a pandemic," she said. "It'll just add to the burden of disease and add to the burden of healthcare systems."
Earlier this week, Governor Bill Lee issued reopening guidelines for Tennessee School districts.
"I know that there are likely a lot of parents tuned in today and we want to be very clear that what we want to provide for you are choices," Lee said.
However, immunizations are not a choice.
Under the guidelines, even students who are learning online will need to get the required vaccinations to register for school.
Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey says COVID-19 has had a significant impact on those numbers.
"Right now we are 43% lower in immunizations that we were this time last year in childhood immunizations," Dr. Piercey said.
Pediatricians say it's critical that children receive regular check-ups and immunizations to help mitigate outbreaks of preventable diseases like the measles and whooping cough.
And if parents have concerns about safely going to the doctor in the midst of the pandemic reach out to your pediatrician.
If you’re looking to get your child vaccinated, contact your local doctor or the Health Department.