Vaccinate Your Family, in collaboration with Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, announced the launch of a new public health campaign called Don’t Skip with actress, activist and author Gabrielle Union-Wade to encourage families to schedule their well-visits and stay up to date on all recommended vaccines.

Parents’ fears about COVID-19, stay-at-home policies and other pandemic-related issues have caused families to stay away from doctors’ offices over the past year, with potentially serious implications to national public health. Missed child well-visits have led to declines in recommended vaccinations, with up to a 26 percent drop in certain childhood vaccinations between January and September 2020, according to one report.

As part of the campaign, a series of new public service announcements feature Union-Wade and her family during moments that reflect some of the realities of life during the pandemic, along with an important message: it’s okay to skip some things right now, but a visit to the doctor isn’t one of them. These visits are important for people of all ages to stay on schedule with their recommended vaccinations, especially for young children and preteens who may have missed some vaccines.

“The health and wellness of my family is my number one priority. Like so many other families, we’ve had to make some adjustments over the past year. But for us, we did not skip our kids’ well-visits and recommended vaccines,” said Union-Wade. “If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us, it’s that public health matters and we all can do our part to help protect our families and each other. That’s why I’m encouraging parents to talk to their kid’s doctors now about getting back into the office to stay up to date with their kid’s recommended vaccinations.”

Timing to return to doctors’ offices has become important, as public venues are starting to reopen, and families are planning for summer break activities and a return to school later this year.

“Now is the time for people of all ages to be talking with their doctor about how to stay up to date with their recommended vaccinations, and it’s especially important for preteens and young children as communities reopen,” said Amy Pisani, executive director of Vaccinate Your Family. “Doctors are taking many precautions to help keep their offices as safe as possible, from special hours for well-visits to wait-in-car policies to limiting the number of people who attend visits. It’s important for parents to ask their child’s doctor now if their child is due for, or has missed, any recommended vaccinations.”

“The decline in recommended vaccination rates and doctor visits reported during the pandemic is a serious public health concern. The scale of this challenge calls for big voices, which is why we are thrilled to have Gabrielle, her family and Vaccinate Your Family involved in this important public health campaign,” said Dr. Julie Gerberding, executive vice president and chief patient officer, Merck. “Merck has a proud legacy of advancing important health initiatives and the decline in recommended child vaccinations warrants urgent return to care action. With support from Gabrielle and Vaccinate Your Family, we hope families will be motivated to help stay protected against vaccine-preventable diseases.”

More information can be found on DontSkipVaccines.com.

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