Nurse Sherra Pritchard gives Madyson Knudsen a bandage at the Kenai Public Health Center after the 10-year-old received her first COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion file)

Nurse Sherra Pritchard gives Madyson Knudsen a bandage at the Kenai Public Health Center after the 10-year-old received her first COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion file)

Fewer than 50% of Alaska kids completing routine vaccines

This was compared to 2013, when more than 60% were completing routine vaccinations

Routine childhood vaccinations are being missed in Alaska and around the country, according to a public health ECHO held via Zoom and livestreamed on Facebook on Wednesday. The State Department of Health has partnered with a mobile app to make tracking vaccines easier.

“We’ve seen a significant decrease in routine childhood vaccinations across the U.S. and in Alaska,” Dr. Lisa Rabinowitz said.

According to state data shared during the ECHO, routine childhood vaccinations are being completed by fewer than 50% of children in Alaska as of 2021. This was compared to 2013, when more than 60% were completing routine vaccinations.

As part of a discussion on vaccinating against COVID-19 and influenza, Rabinowitz said the message and recommendation from public health officials is “winterize and immunize.”

Rabinowitz said vaccinating in response to and against these urgent and oncoming diseases is important, but also stressed the protection of other vaccines available and recommended for children and adults.

“Now is the time to really check in with your trusted health professional, figure out what your child is behind on, get them caught up and up to date heading into the winter.”

Sarah Aho, immunization program manager for the State Division of Public Health, said during the ECHO that a variety of outreach methods are being planned.

To track vaccines, the State of Alaska Department of Health has partnered with Docket, a mobile app that tracks official immunization records. Rabinowitz said the app is free, secure, and provides residents with easy access to their personal and family records.

“When I downloaded mine, I had vaccines in there from when I was born in Alaska,” she said. “That was quite a few years ago.”

Information about vaccines and their availability can be found at vaccines.gov. Docket can be downloaded from the app store on iPhones or the Google Play store on Android phones — it only requires a name and date of birth to find records from the Alaska Department of Health.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

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