Are coronavirus fears breathing new life into old childhood diseases?

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Credit: Jeremy Raff/KQED

Fear among vulnerable patients that they may contract and succumb to a COVID-19 infection is completely understandable. It is less understandable, however, when this fear makes parents forgo taking their children to the doctor’s office for routine vaccinations against diseases which are far more deadly and contagious, as the Wall Street Journal reported May 8. The timing of certain immunizations in children can be crucial. Forgoing or even just postponing them can have serious consequences.

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This is particularly unfortunate considering that children appear relatively spared by the COVID pandemic. According to the CDC, as of May 3 less than two percent of confirmed COVID-19 cases were among patients under age 18.

Related article:  When coronavirus patients don't have time to wait: Pandemic forces ethical shift in assessing treatments

Meanwhile, diseases like measles and polio are much more deadly and contagious. Measles can lead to pneumonia, along with brain swelling and secondary permanent neurologic sequelae, such as vision and hearing loss and cognitive impairment.

The Wall Street Journal article quoted one pediatrician as saying, “The numbers will tell you it’s guaranteed that some American kid today is going to die in 10 to 20 years of HPV as a result of Covid.”

It would be a great tragedy to see new pandemics, from pathogens previously believed to have been defeated, arise from the ashes of the current pandemic.

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