COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The World Health Organization is blaming the COVID-19 pandemic for yet another disruption to normal life.

The organization is reporting nearly 25 million children worldwide are falling behind on routine vaccinations, calling it a red alert for children’s health.

OhioHealth Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Joseph Gastaldo finds the report very concerning, tracing it back to two things: Limited access to primary health care during the pandemic, and misinformation being spread about vaccinations.

No matter the reason, he said it is crucial for parents to protect their children from these deadly diseases.

“Some of these infections are actually very deadly,” Gastaldo said.

The WHO is calling the drop in vaccinations among children “the largest drop in childhood immunization in a generation.”

“COVID has really had a lot of disruptions to the way we live our day-to-day lives, and in healthcare specifically,” he said. “There were a lot of people who delayed getting routine healthcare done, whether it be getting screenings for breast cancer or colon cancer, but also vaccines.”

Gastaldo said the majority of these children are living in developing countries. but health officials are seeing a drop everywhere. He said with back-to-school looming, this needs to change not only to protect your child, but also the people around them.

“We are talking about things like meningitis,” Gastaldo said. “We also have vaccines for things like polio, measles, rubella, diphtheria, and tetanus and we need to make sure that everybody is protected from types of infections that we don’t see anymore because of vaccines.” 

Guidelines from the Ohio Department of Health state that all of the vaccines Gastaldo named, plus more, are required for a child to attend school unless they have a proper religious or allergy exemption.

“It is one of those things where, hopefully, we can think about the general public,” said Kiran Wyche, a Columbus parent, on the importance of vaccination.

Columbus parent Elizabeth Kirkland said all of her children are up to date on their shots.

Gastaldo said if you are looking for more information about vaccines or feel uncomfortable getting your child vaccinated to check with your primary care doctor or local health department for advice.