For Immediate Release:
August 31, 2020
Chief of Communications
Deputy Chief of Communications
ARKids First Kicks Off Don’t Wait, Vaccinate! Campaign Today
Families Encouraged Not to Let Public Health Emergency Delay Important Vaccines
(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) — The ARKids First health program is kicking off the Don’t Wait, Vaccinate! campaign this week to encourage parents not to delay getting their children’s routine vaccinations. The State has seen a decline in childhood vaccinations, which experts attribute to the public health emergency.
“We’ve seen significantly fewer Arkansas children get vaccinated this year than we did last year at this time,” said Dr. William Golden, Medical Director for Arkansas Medicaid and ARKids First. “We understand that families have been limiting public outings, but childhood immunizations are too important to delay. They protect children from very serious and sometimes fatal diseases like measles, whooping cough, and tetanus.”
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas children from birth to age 18 received 75,310 fewer vaccinations between January and the end of July 2020 than they did between January and the end of July 2019.
“The last thing we want during a pandemic is an outbreak of a disease that can be prevented with a vaccine,” said Arkansas Department of Health Secretary José R. Romero. “Routine vaccines will be even more important for the health and safety of children as we move into flu season.”
Romero said parents should get their children vaccinated for the flu as soon as the vaccine becomes available this fall. ARKids First covers childhood vaccines, including the flu vaccine, at no cost to eligible families.
ARKids First and the Arkansas Department of Human Services is launching the Don’t Wait, Vaccinate! campaign, which will include paid radio and social media advertising as well as work to get vaccination information to school nurses and others in counties that have had historically lower vaccination rates.
Pediatricians across Arkansas have made changes to their offices, like designating wellness times or areas, to ensure well children can come into their doctor’s office and safely get vaccines without risking getting sick with COVID-19, said Dr. Gary Wheeler, President of the Arkansas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“With immunizations, parents can take control of their child's health, giving them the best chance of growing up to be healthy, productive young adults,” Wheeler said. “Your pediatrician is a good source of information if you have questions about your child's immunizations and how to protect them from disease.”
You can find an up-to-date schedule of recommended childhood immunizations by age on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. To learn more about the ARKids First Program, visit our website www.ARKidsfirst.com. To apply, visit www.Access.Arkansas.gov.