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Threat of childhood illnesses rises amid low vaccination rates

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 5:55 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A local doctor says while it seems pertussis cases are back under control, we are not out of the woods just yet as he cautions about other illnesses as well.

“Fortunately contact investigation has been performed and the localized outbreaks, plural, of pertussis in Arizona are coming under control but that’s a very tentative control,” said Dr. Sean Elliott with Tucson Medical Center.

He says it only takes another index patient to start the spread once again. Pertussis, commonly called whooping cough, is a very violent cough that can be deadly in babies. Dr. Elliott believes we saw an uptick in cases because so many parents are behind on getting their kids their regular vaccinations.

“Due to the pandemic and inability or choice not to seek routine, normal, preventative health care visits there is as much as a 50% decrease in the routine vaccination rates of healthy children.”

He says because of this, pertussis is not the only threat.

“So, next up, we’re already seeing this measles, pertussis, heavens forbid we see diphtheria in this country where we haven’t in a non-immigrant for a long time.”

Dr. Elliott urges every parent, especially as schools start up again, to make sure their kids are up-to-date on vaccinations.

“Right now, pertussis seems to be under the wire but it could reemerge at any point in time. So too with measles so too with anything else.”

Dr. Elliott says it is safe for children to get their routine vaccines at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine.

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