COLUMBUS (WCMH) — During Tuesday’s coronavirus press briefing, Dr. Sara Bode from Nationwide Children’s Hospital said there has been a steep decline in children visiting hospitals and receiving vaccines during the past few months.

Dr. Bode is a primary care physician and the medical director of care connection and school-based health mobile clinics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

“We’ve seen a very sharp decline since March in the number of kids that have come in for vaccinations across the state,” Dr. Bode said.

Dr. Bode said the rates are down about 40 percent from what is typical for this time of year. She added there has been a drop of 8,000 vaccines per month in Franklin County in March and April.

She said they typically vaccinate 1,000 children a month for measles, but in April that number was only 32 children a month.

“Why does this concern us? Vaccines are critical to prevent disease and outbreaks,” Dr. Bode said. “We know this through recent outbreaks of measles and mumps and chicken pox, those are reminders of how important this is for children. What we want you to know is that pediatric offices are open and they are safe.”

Dr. Bode stressed the importance of local health departments working with schools in order to find children who need vaccines and get them caught up to a vaccination they missed during the past few months.

“We have vaccine clinics that are going to be operating all summer long in a safe manner for families so that they can come and get their children caught up prior to the start of summer, the end of summer and prior to the start of school,” Dr. Bode said.

She said they are worried that when children get back to school, they will be at a higher risk for a potential outbreak if they have not received the vaccines they need.

“It’s more important than ever to keep these appointments and that kids get their preventive care,” Gov. Mike DeWine said.