KINGSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU)— Families are gearing up for back-to-school. The checklist includes more than clothing and tools to help kids learn.

Health experts say vaccines should be front and center.

It’s national immunization awareness month. The American Association of Immunologists wants you to know it’s critical for everyone, especially children, to get their routine vaccinations.

11-year-old PAK Pediatrics patient Grace Klein got three vaccinations Thursday afternoon including for tetanus and meningitis.

“I think they’re helping me ’cause then I can’t get sick or anything like that,” said Grace Klein.

“Did it hurt much?” Mark Hiller asked.

“One did a bit but it really didn’t hurt.” Grace Klein answered.

It’s important for Grace’s parents to keep her and her brother healthy with routine vaccinations.

“If everything has helped to date so why not trust the pediatricians and know that this is going to work and it seems to have worked for our family,” said Grace’s dad, Danny Klein.

But the World Health Organization says too many families are missing out. 25 million children did not get basic immunizations in 2021, the highest number since 2009.

“We have noticed that some of our patients chose not to come in for a well visit for two years because of COVID and now they’re coming in and we’re trying to catch up on the vaccinations,” Doctor Alvaro Reymunde, a pediatrician at PAK Pediatrics, explained.

The MMR vaccine, as it’s commonly called, is required for students entering kindergarten. Measles, which were declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2020, have re-emerged in recent years largely in part because of anti-vaccination sentiment.

“And that’s a serious problem,” said Dr. Avery August.

Dr. August with the American Association of Immunologists blames that growing hesitancy, in part, on what he considers unfounded backlash about the COVID vaccine development.

“The clinical trials and the clinical studies that were done for developing the COVID-19 vaccine was no different from the other clinical trials that we use to develop the other vaccines. Many, many studies that evaluate safety, efficacy and how we actually deliver them,” Dr. August explained.

It’s why the Kleins are keeping up with routine vaccines.

“It’s the right course to take and our kids and ourselves as a family and we all have, knock on wood, been safe to date and have not had any serious illnesses,” Grace’s dad said.

Doctors also say it’s important to debunk myths including “Herd immunity will keep me safe”, or that “Vaccines make will make me sick”, and “Vaccines contain unsafe toxins”.