Doctors around the world, across the country and here in the Midstate are noticing a disturbing trend; more and more families are skipping routine vaccinations for their kids.

Experts say that’s a dangerous decision.

It started during the pandemic, when a lot of families skipped routine doctor visits. And a surprising number of them are still behind on routine shots.

“Vaccines have been studied for decades,” said WellSpan Health pediatrician Dr. Almira Contractor. “They are proven to be safe and effective and vaccines do not weaken your child’s immune system. They are actually a means for your child to get the power to protect themselves when they exposed to that illness later. It just revs up the immune system so they can fight infection.”

Contractor says conflicting information about the COVID vaccine has fueled skepticism about all types of immunizations. But she warns, just because you don’t hear about a certain illness anymore, doesn’t mean it’s not a threat.

“An example is polio,” she said. “We don’t see polio in the U.S. because the vaccine is a success. But around the world there are cases of polio.”

She said another example is measles, which are highly contagious and can lead to death. She says people are also skipping the flu shot, which is not a good idea. Contractor said last year was a bad one for flu cases with more than 100 pediatric deaths.

She encourages any parents with questions to talk to their doctor. And when seeking information online, she urges parents to make sure to go to a trusted source.

“It’s very important that families realize that when they vaccinate their children they are not only protecting that child, but protecting the entire family and their community.”

She said that’s especially true for certain portions of the population, such as babies, who cannot be vaccinated.