’A ticking time bomb:’ Low vaccination rates could cause next preventable pandemic

Vaccination rates sink to 50% statewide

Doctors warn the decline in pediatric vaccinations could be “a ticking time bomb.”

ORLANDO, Fla. – Doctors warn the decline in pediatric vaccinations could be “a ticking time bomb.”

News 6 has been reporting throughout the coronavirus pandemic about the plea from pediatricians to continue in-person visits for vaccinations.

Again in July, the Florida Department of Health showed vaccinations dropped by 15% in March and 40% in April.

[RELATED: Warning from a pediatrician: Don’t delay your child’s vaccines due to COVID-19 | Doctors urge kids to catch up on vaccinations before school openings]

Now as some students begin face-to-face learning, one pediatrician is warning Florida is one step away from another preventable pandemic.

“We are one measles case away from a very substantial measles epidemic, so timeline there could be tomorrow, and I don’t mean to be alarmist, I’m just realistic,” Dr. Alix Casler, the chief of pediatrics for Orlando Health Associates, said in a Zoom interview.

Casler stressed the importance of understanding the risks versus rewards of vaccinations, especially for parents who were too young to remember the measles pandemic 30 years ago.

According to a recent national survey by Orlando Health, 38% of parents responded that they don’t believe their child needs all the vaccines recommended by their pediatrician.

Students in Seminole County became the first in the Central Florida 10-county region to return to the classroom on Monday, the first day of school for the district.

That survey was conducted while the Florida State Vaccine Registry showed a sharp decline in the number of children entering pre-K and 7th grade getting their vaccinations.

“Statewide the numbers were looking at about 50% and that was about month ago now I think, which is, you know, terrifying for those of us who have lived through measles outbreak,” Casler said.

Casler said the numbers were higher in Orange County specifically, at around 74%. But that number is still alarming when the typical rate is around 90-95%.

“It is a little bit of a concern that we have a ticking time bomb, unless we get the kids vaccinated,” Casler said.

With flu season fast approaching, the CDC is projecting an influx in patients opting to get the flu shot.

“I keep saying maybe there’s a silver lining in this life experience that people will kind of step back and say ‘Oh, now I get why we vaccinate,‘” Casler said.