HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Childhood vaccination rates across the country and the Commonwealth have declined from pre-COVID levels, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

“Rubella and measles specifically are very contagious, so the less people that get vaccinated the more likely we’re gonna see these types of viruses spread,” Certified Nurse Practitioner Kaitlyn Hoffman of UPMC said.

The decline in vaccinations is making health officials worried as more people opt out of vaccinating their children.

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“Overall vaccine rates have dropped about 1% nationally which doesn’t sound like a lot but is actually pretty huge,” said Hoffman.

Pennsylvania is no different. Statewide data from the Pennsylvania Department of Health shows that vaccination rates for preventable diseases, such as polio and measles, have fallen over the last two years.

“Rubella, measles specifically, is very contagious, so the less people that get vaccinated the more likely we’re going to see these types of viruses spread,” said Hoffman.

What was originally a fear is now becoming reality.

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“Measles itself has been increasing significantly, there was about 49 cases in 2021 and then we had 118 last year,” Hoffman added.

Even Polio, which was deemed eradicated in 1979, had a case in New York last fall.

“The concern is too that there are some people who legitimately can’t get vaccinated due to medical reasons, so it leaves the people who cannot get vaccinated at an even higher risk cause they rely on the rest of us to protect them,” Hoffman said.

Health experts say the reason for the decline in vaccinations is likely linked to misinformation.

“We’re also having a decrease in routine office visits as well where we typically talk vaccines, talk education, and getting children immunized,” said Hoffman.

The most important aspect of it all is urging parents to learn.

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“It really is not only keeping you safe but your family safe and your community safe as well,” Hoffman concluded.