CHESAPEAKE, Va. - Playtime looks a bit different these days for eight-year-old Maxine and her little sister Minerva. Since the pandemic started, the Chesapeake girls haven't seen many of their friends, and when they do, they're masked. That's one of the reasons their mother, Brittany Brown Marsh, wanted them to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it was available for them.
"I'm so relieved they have the shot out now for kids, that they approved it," she tells News 3 anchor Blaine Stewart. "
First thing this morning, I was on my phone, scheduling their appointment," she says.
Brown Marsh takes no chances. Her daughters are up to date on all of their required vaccinations.
"They just got their flu shots a couple of weeks ago."
While Maxine and Minerva are used to rolling up their sleeves, News 3 is revealing a troubling trend among young school children. Not as many are getting their required vaccinations for things like measles, polio, and chicken pox.
"We've been behind."
Dr. Douglas Mitchell, pediatrician
Dr. Douglas Mitchell, medical director of Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters medical group believes there are two main reasons for the shot slowdown. One is that most kids were out of classrooms and on Zoom for a year, so parents got a little lax with getting the required immunizations. Then, in July, Virginia added additional required vaccines, which added to the backlog. Click here to see the new schedule for Virginia children.
"That put us three months behind on everything. And we've been playing catch up since then," he explains.
"It was really a perfect storm."
Dr. Mitchell adds the anti-vaccine movement, particularly with the COVID-19 vaccine, doesn't help. He knows part of his job is to convince skeptical parents.
"We know the vaccines are effective, we know that vaccines are safe," Dr. Mitchell says."
"Any method to get the kids adequately vaccinated, helps protect them, helps keep them in school, which is our number one priority right now, and saves lives ultimately."
The science convinced Brittany Brown Marsh.
"They're getting them. Whether they want them or not, they're getting them," she stresses.
"I want them safe. If it's preventable from getting a shot, they're getting the shot."