Fort Worth, Texas,
12:08 PM

Doctors at Cook Children’s Raise Concerns as Vaccine Rates Dip

Since the arrival of COVID-19, a desperate search for a vaccine to fight the pandemic has ensued worldwide. However, despite this present-day example of the importance of vaccination, immunization rates at Cook Children's have dipped.

From March 1 through May 31, 2020, 66,049 children received their vaccines at either a Cook Children's primary care office or a neighborhood clinic. That's compared to 81,984 in those same months in 2019.

While some of the decreases in numbers are due to families staying at home because of the pandemic, pediatricians want parents to know it's essential to get your vaccines, perhaps now more than ever. Data from Scientific American found that during March 2020, vaccination rates dropped to 44.7% in Texas, the second-lowest in the nation behind Washington D.C. (44.4%).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a 2.5 million decrease in non-influenza vaccines ordered from the federal Vaccines for Children Program between January 6 and April 19 of this year. The CDC adds there was a 250,000 drop in the number of measles vaccines ordered during that time.

"Immunizations are the safest, easiest way to protect your kids from unnecessary and sometimes fatal childhood diseases," said Jason Terk, M.D., a Cook Children's pediatrician in Keller and a national advocate for vaccines. "We all desperately want a vaccine to protect us from COVID-19. But I think it's important to focus on what we do have right now, and that's vaccines for 16 different diseases. These vaccines are tried and true. We have had many years of experience with them, and we know that they are safe."

Doctors stress vaccines to protect not only your child but other kids as well. Immune-suppressed people have a higher risk for the deadlier complications of measles infection, such as encephalitis and pneumonia. Vaccines protect your child and those who may come into contact with them.

Dr. Terk said, "the best course of action is to make sure that all persons in close contact with babies less than 6 months of age are properly vaccinated against measles and avoid situations where larger groups of unvaccinated people are likely to be."

While the overwhelming majority of parents do choose to give their children vaccines, some have decided not to, ignoring leading health care organizations.

"Vaccines are safe and effective," said Mary Suzanne Whitworth, M.D., medical director of Infectious Diseases at Cook Children's. "There are decades of sound scientific research to support this. We recommend that all children be vaccinated as recommended by the American Committee on Immunization Practices schedule to help keep them safe."

With so much misinformation online undermining the safety and importance of immunizations, it can be difficult for parents to separate the facts from fiction.

Pediatricians and other health care providers at Cook Children's are concerned about the potential rise in preventable diseases and even more concerned about the risks they pose to babies, kids, teens, and adults.

Alice Phillips, M.D., a Cook Children's pediatrician, welcomes a conversation with her patient families. She said her job is to listen to concerned parents in a respectful way to provide facts and calm their worries.

"I try to answer them with what my experiences as a practitioner have been. I tell them not only what I've seen as a physician and explain all the science supporting immunization, but what I've done as a mom," Dr. Phillips said. "My children are vaccinated. I believe in vaccines. Often, a parent needs kindness, compassion, and assurance that they are making the right decision for their child. I truly want them to know that receiving a vaccine is the right decision for your child."​​

Important Resources



Immunization and Vaccines

At Cook Children's, we're very concerned about the rise in preventable diseases, and even more concerned about the risks they pose to babies, kids, teens and adults. So, to clear up some of the confusion, and to help you make wise decisions, here are the basic facts you need to know about immunizations.

  • Vaccines save lives
  • Vaccines are safe
  • Vaccines protect those that cannot be vaccinated
  • We vaccinate our own kids

Cook Children's follows the same guidelines that we recommend to our patients and their families. Click here to learn more information

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Terri Andrews
Thanks so much for including the link to Immunization Collaboration! Together we can help get vaccine rates back up!