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Health officials see decrease in child vaccinations because of pandemic

Earlier in the pandemic, annual checkups and vaccination updates were not happening, causing numbers to decrease.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Early on in the pandemic, the number of kids going in to get their annual checkup decreased, resulting in less up-to-date vaccinations. This data has concerned health officials who are gearing up for the start of another school year. 

Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Public Health said, "It's the social distancing, the hygiene including good hand washing, and the use of the cloth face covering or mask. Use all three. This is our best opportunity to make an impact on the spread of this virus."

According to Dr. Landers, the best way to reduce the spread when school returns is constantly reminding the kids of these three techniques. The next step will be keeping the kids separated at all costs. 

"One of the alterations is spacing desks, creating barriers between desks, putting up barriers with tables and just keeping the separation as far apart as possible. Again, trying to create that 6 feet of distance, while recognizing that 3 to 6 feet can be reasonable in an atmosphere of this nature," she added. 

Students in Madison County will be starting virtual for at least the first nine weeks, surrounding areas are still offering traditional school. Masks will be required for kids second grade and up. 

Since Governor Kay Ivey's mask ordinance, numbers have begun to decrease in some areas. Madison County Commission Chairman, Dale Strong said locally, there has been a 35 percent reduction. 

"I think that people are probably more receptive to it now. I think the data is proven. You look at what has occurred in the last 2 weeks," he continued, "Here locally, we're down a 35 percent reduction just based on the masks, so I believe that the masks are proven."

With school coming back into session, health leaders expect to see another increase, but are hoping these precautions can help keep the numbers from getting out of control. 

Schools will begin back for: 

  • Jackson and Limestone Counties on August 7 (18K students total)
  • DeKalb County on August 10 (9K students)
  • Lawrence, Morgan/Decatur on August 12 (25K total)
  • Athens, Lauderdale, Huntsville on August 17 (41K total)
  • Madison County on August 19 (19K total)
  • Marshall County on August 20 (18K total)
  • Colbert County on August 24 (3K total)

Madison County will have their next Covid-19 briefing on Monday, August 3rd.