MINNEAPOLIS — Routine vaccinations have declined in Minnesota and across the country because of COVID-19, though it is critical that Minnesotan children are vaccinated in order to practice good health habits.

According to a news release from three medical associations in Minnesota, it is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of Minnesotan children have delayed physician visits, vaccinations and routine treatment because of the pandemic and the associated worry over spending time in medical clinics.

“Minnesota’s physicians strongly urge parents to continue with their children’s routine vaccinations for the health and safety of their children, families and the community,” said Dr. Keith Stelter, Minnesota Medical Association president, in the release.

The Minnesota Medical Association, the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians in a news release said they strongly believe that all children should be vaccinated, except those who are not able because of medical reasons. High vaccination rates protect communities, particularly vulnerable members such as newborns and those with compromised immune systems.

According to the release, this “community immunity” serves to protect those who cannot be for medical reasons.

Even during this challenging time, medical clinics are able to provide vaccinations in a safe environment.

“Pediatricians and medical clinics are open and prepared to take care of patients and children, provide vaccinations and maintain the recommended schedule of preventive and routine care,” said Dr. Lori DeFrance, president of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Under current Minnesota law, children must be vaccinated in order to attend public school, unless exempted by parents' personal beliefs.

“I know the COVID-19 pandemic has a lot of patients nervous, but now is not the time to stop getting important vaccinations,” said Dr. Renee Crichlow, Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians president.

The Minnesota Medical Association is a professional association representing more than 10,000 physicians, residents and medical students. The Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics represents more than 1,000 pediatricians, pediatric providers, and pediatric trainees and the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in Minnesota, representing more than 3,100 family physicians, family medicine residents and medical students.