Plenty of childhood vaccinations that are considered routine among health professionals have taken a back seat during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many parents avoided non-emergency visits to the doctor's office.

If you're one of the parents who skipped out on any of these immunizations but want to get back on track, New Jersey health officials want you to know that it's possible to once again be current with what your kid may need.

"Now is the time to catch up on vaccinations to avoid preventable diseases like measles, chicken pox, and whooping cough, which can all be very serious for babies and young children," said Dr. Barbara Montana, medical director with the Communicable Disease Service at the New Jersey Department of Health.

New Jersey is sending a specific reminder to parents as part of National Infant Immunization Week, which runs through April 30.

Published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2022, a catch-up schedule for children and adolescents accelerates the vaccination timeline for families with young children who've fallen behind on immunizations, Montana noted.

"You can get multiple vaccines in a single visit," Montana said. "The vaccination schedules that are out there are proven to be safe and effective."

In addition to routinely recommended vaccinations, health officials are advising anyone aged 5 and older to become protected against COVID-19.

For several years, the rate of children meeting all immunization requirements for schooling has been higher than 94% in New Jersey. It dipped to 92.2% for 2020-21, the first full academic year following the onset of the COVID-19 crisis.

"The good news is that overall routine vaccination coverage does remain high, and we can recover ground lost during the pandemic," Montana said.

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com

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These are the best hiking spots in New Jersey

A trip to New Jersey doesn't have to be all about the beach. Our state has some incredible trails, waterfalls, and lakes to enjoy.

From the Pine Barrens to the Appalachian Trail to the hidden gems of New Jersey, you have plenty of options for a great hike. Hiking is such a great way to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature, plus it's a great workout.

Before you go out on the trails and explore some of our listeners' suggestions, I have some tips on hiking etiquette from the American Hiking Society.

If you are going downhill and run into an uphill hiker, step to the side and give the uphill hiker space. A hiker going uphill has the right of way unless they stop to catch their breath.

Always stay on the trail, you may see side paths, unless they are marked as an official trail, steer clear of them. By going off-trail you may cause damage to the ecosystems around the trail, the plants, and wildlife that live there.

You also do not want to disturb the wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from the wildlife and continue hiking.

Bicyclists should yield to hikers and horses. Hikers should also yield to horses, but I’m not sure how many horses you will encounter on the trails in New Jersey.
If you are thinking of bringing your dog on your hike, they should be leashed, and make sure to clean up all pet waste.

Lastly, be mindful of the weather, if the trail is too muddy, it's probably best to save your hike for another day.

I asked our listeners for their suggestions of the best hiking spots in New Jersey, check out their suggestions:

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Nasty NJ town nicknames — Have you heard of them?

Dennis & Judi asked their listeners for the nasty nicknames they've heard their towns referred to. How many have you heard? Which ones would you add?