BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — Local health leaders are encouraging parents to get their children immunized ahead of the new school year.

For the 2020-2021 school year, the CDC said the number of kindergartners that received required vaccines dropped by one percent, accounting for more than 35,000 children nationwide.

“I think the problem has been with COVID, just getting people into the office, keeping them up to date on their visits and up to date on their vaccines,” said Dr. Rebecca Sierra, OSF Healthcare pediatrician.

Vaccines against certain illnesses like measles and mumps are not only required by the State of Illinois to attend public school, but health leaders said they’re also important for community health.

“We want a certain percentage of kids to be vaccinated in order to have herd immunity, to keep those viruses out of the community,” Sierra said.

“We don’t see the diseases that we use to see because the vaccines do work,” said Geri Stuart, immunization clinic supervisor with McLean County Health Department.

Similar to national numbers, Stuart said she saw fewer children coming in last year for shots, but that trend is beginning to change.

“In 2022 we’ve seen a lot more children coming in, we’ve been a lot busier and parents seem to be getting back on track,” Stuart said.

If your child hasn’t seen a doctor recently, they’re encouraged to do so.

“If they haven’t had a routine physical within the last year, they definitely need to check in and make sure that there’s nothing that we’re missing,” Sierra said.

Stuart said it’s not too late to get vaccinated ahead of the new school year.

Vaccines can be provided at the McLean County Health Department and they do accept most insurance providers. Parents can also reach out to their child’s pediatrician as well