TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Nationwide, there’s growing concern from medical professionals as the vaccination rate for children has declined. From the flu vaccine to the COVID-19 vaccine, the number of children getting vaccinated has dropped across the board.

“During the pandemic, vaccination rates have gone down, and well-child checks have gone down as much as 20% across the entire United States,” said Dr. Ashley McPhie, a pediatrician and the chief medical officer at Tampa Family Health Centers. “We’ve seen diseases that normally have a certain season rear their heads in other seasons now. So we’ve seen a change from what we’ve known in medicine and have had to pivot and change with that.”

The reason behind the drop in vaccinations and medical visits vary, according to Dr. McPhie.

“Sometimes it’s just the needle poke. Sometimes it’s something they read on Facebook or social media they weren’t sure whether they should believe or not,” she said.

McPhie joined Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, who represents Tampa, and other local doctors and advocates on Thursday to encourage parents to get their kids vaccinated for COVID-19, as well as other scheduled immunizations.

“The COVID-19 vaccination is now available for children 6 months and older. Now just about everyone in America has access to the COVID-19 vaccine. This is a rigorously-tested vaccine that will protect the entire community,” Rep. Castor said.

The Florida Department of Health and Gov. Ron DeSantis have publicly said they do not recommend healthy children under the age of 17 receiving the COVID-19 shot.

“I would just caution them to look at the actual data in the clinical trial. It is the weakest possible data that you could possibly see,” Gov. DeSantis said at a recent news conference.

Dr. Patricia Emmanuel, chair of USF’s Department of Pediatrics, said she stands behind the studies and urged parents to do the same at the news conference Thursday.

“The vaccine trials, we participated with some of them at USF Pediatrics, and these vaccines have been safe in children and with minimal side effects, the typical vaccine side effects that we see,” said Dr. Emmanuel.