DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Public Health of Dayton & Montgomery County is urging parents to schedule their students for all required vaccinations before they return to school. Medical experts say many children did not get those regular vaccinations last year because of the coronavirus disruption.

Public Health’s medical director says there’s no way of knowing how many children are behind on their vaccines, but he says it’s likely a significant number. And if those students don’t catch up, they could be susceptible to dangerous illnesses.

Dr. Michael Dohn says, “I think the disruption in childhood vaccines is not so much hesitancy as it is simply there’s been a disruption in the usual processes.”

Dr. Dohn says many people just did not get medical care during the peak of the pandemic, and that includes children who usually get vaccines required for school. “As a consequence, we have children who will need to do some catchup probably to get their vaccines done to protect themselves and their playmates.”

Different ages are required to get different vaccines. Among the vaccinations Public Health is encouraging parents to schedule are diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, chickenpox and meningococcal.

Dr. Dohn says, “It’s not that we’re trying to enforce the law, or that the schools are enforcing the law. The fact is it’s there for a reason. And that is to keep kids safe.”

MORE Public Health discusses how catching up on missed vaccinations will keep children safe:

Public Health will offer vaccinations at its clinic at the Reibold Building at 117 S. Main St. Parents should bring their insurance information, but no one will be refused service due to inability to pay.

Dr. Dohn says some new parents may not know about required vaccines, but it’s the smart thing to do and part of responsible parenting. “This is the same sort of thing except that instead of reacting to what’s happened, it’s to prevent something happening. And it’s just good medical care for children.” He adds, “The vaccine uptake will not be as high, so that’s a concern.”

If students missed vaccinations last year, not catching up now could put them in danger. Dr. Dohn says vaccinating children against preventable diseases is no different than other critical medical care. “The same as if you have a child that gets injured, you take them to the emergency room. If you have a child with a fever who gets sick, you want to take them to the pediatrician.”

DPS turned down an opportunity to talk about the upcoming school year but documents available online say the district will monitor the latest information from health authorities.

DPS will not require masks for people who have been vaccinated as of July 1, but masks are still recommended for students and staff who have not been vaccinated.

Dr. Dohn says, “The effort really is to identify who’s been vaccinated, identify who, for whatever reason, may have fallen behind. And then see if we can make some sort of amends for that so that the kids can get vaccinated and be safe.”